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Espresso Book Machine arrives at University Bookstore

MU is one of three universities to have the machine.


MU Media Assistant Mitchell Maglio and Head Media Coordinator Heather Tearney test out the University Bookstore's new Espresso Book Machine on Monday, which prints books for 6 cents per page. The new machine will allow students to have out-of-stock books in their hands sooner.

Casey Berner/Senior Staff Photographer

Sept. 25, 2009

A machine capable of printing and binding paperback books in a matter of minutes was installed Tuesday in the University Bookstore. The Espresso Book Machine, one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2007, was installed on the lower level of the bookstore, making MU one of only three universities nationwide with such a device.

Bookstore spokeswoman Michelle Froese said she sees a great deal of potential in the machine, which cost University Bookstore $75,000. Froese said it would allow the bookstore to reproduce course materials, such as out of print books and course packets at a lower price for students. It also comes with a license with Lightning Source, a printer and distributor, which provides thousands of titles ready to be printed on demand.

Froese said there are plans to work with faculty and staff to integrate introductions and notes into a line of books available for the machine, called University Classics.

"For example, we have a Mark Twain scholar at Mizzou," Froese said. "It would be a wonder to have him write an introduction, annotated notes, etc., to include with a series of Twain novels."

Books slated to be included as University Classics include "Great Expectations," "Frankenstein" and "The War of the Worlds."

The machine can also be used to create books from the works of people or groups. A number of people have expressed their interest in having their own book made, Froese said.

"One person is working on a family history/cookbook, another person is creating a cookbook as a fundraiser for her organization," Froese said. "I have had several people talk about creating a book of stories or anecdotes to pass down to their children."

Users can bring in their own material to be printed from a PDF file at a price of 6 cents per page. For an additional $8, they can purchase an International Standard Book Number.

"We can offer them an ISBN for $8 whereas if they were to purchase it on their own it could cost about $135," said Heather Tearney, media coordinator for the bookstore.

The Web site for On Demand Books, the creator of the Espresso Book Machine, said the device could produce books identical to their original versions.

"The Espresso Book Machine is a fully integrated patented book making machine which can automatically print, bind and trim, on demand at point of sale, perfect bound library quality paperback books with four-color covers indistinguishable from their factory made versions," the Web site stated.

Froese said the machine will help MU adjust to changes in the nature of textbooks and was paid for by the bookstore, a self-supporting auxiliary, meaning no student fees or general operating funds went into its purchase.

The machine has been a hit on other college campuses, Froese said. The University of Alberta bookstore, the first college bookstore to purchase an Espresso Book Machine, saw the machine pay for itself within a matter of months.

Given the early response to the machine, she expects it to be successful with students and faculty at MU.

"Whatever you want to put down in book format can be created," Froese said. "The potential is limitless."

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Article comments

Sept. 28, 2009 at 8:26 a.m.

lrd222: Wow, so now they can print their own customized books that students have no chance of selling back at the end of the semester? This doesn't sound like a positive development for students. The bookstore's monopoly continues.

Sept. 30, 2009 at 6:51 a.m.

Randy Dauphin: Here at Waterloo we also have an Espresso. Just because the book is printed on the Espresso and might be customizable does not mean that it can not be sold back. The EBM is a book like any other so as long as the Prof is using the book again there is no reason why another student would not want to buy it.

Sept. 30, 2009 at 8:16 a.m.

Michelle: When faculty use custom books, the bookstore encourages them to reuse the same book the following semester so that students can sell them back. We currently have customized textbooks used in three Management courses, including Business Law 1 and 2 that are bought back. When faculty reuse customized books created by publishers, the bookstore can buy them back from students for 50% of the new price. The bookstore will continue to do this with books printed by the EBM, as long as faculty continue to reuse them. Mizzou Media has also been working with faculty who use the same course packet each semester so that the course packs can actually be bought back. This is occuring in courses in Geography, TAM, Psych, Journalism, Ag Econ, and Marketing.

Oct. 5, 2009 at 10:03 a.m.

CT: The exciting thing for me is the ability to print long out of print, hard to find books from Google's archive. Ever go to abebooks or Amazon looking for an old book only to discover that original copies demand 3-digit prices? Now, if the copyright is expired and it's in Google's archive, you can have a brand new copy for just a few dollars.

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