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."