Google making it possible to print public domain books

CaptureGoogle has been very much about saving out of print books by moving them into a digital format over the last seven years. This has been a part of their Google Book Search project, which involved pulling books out of libraries and scanning them in, and thus preserving them forever. Of course, some people prefer a hard copy, and now that’s going to be a possibility as well, at least at some locations.

Google has teamed up with On Demand Books, makers of the $100,000 Espresso Book Machine, which enables people who own the machine to print books on site, rather then waiting for them to be printed, bound, shipped, and then delivered to book stores. Your average 300 page book with a color cover takes about four minutes, and costs about $3.00 to produce.

This has huge implications, partly to the out of print book industry and partly to the end user. The out of print book industry typically charge extremely high prices for books, which may not really be an option for them anymore. For the end user, it’ll make books that previously were impossible to find accessible, and easy to locate.

Currently, there are a few sites that are up and running. The Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge Massachusetts, the University of Michigan Shapiro library, and the Blackwell Bookshop in London just to name a few. The company hopes to have about 90 machines running world wide in the next year, so keep your eyes open. The books will probably sell for about $8 each, allowing the book seller to make some money after paying for the materials and fees to Google and On Demand.

This is amazing. Imagine being able to go to a major book store and have them print the book you want to order, instead of having to find it on the shelf or order it in. I for one am looking forward to it.

[via CNN Technology] Thanks to Tam for the tip.