January 23, 2010

Another high tech gadget for readers

I headed down to the storage unit again yesterday to continue the editing process. I decided to attack the boxes of books one more time. I had already sold off a couple boxes worth before I moved out, but I wanted to raise the cutoff line a little higher. I tried applying the "If I live to be 100 will I ever read this again" rule. Well something close to it. Baby steps for the pack rat.

I ended up with another box packed full of books that didn't make the cut. My first stop yesterday was Third Place Books since they seem to pay out a little more than others. There is also a service I found online called Swaptree. You can trade books, CDs, video games and DVDs with other members. Just list what you have and what you're looking for and see if you get a bite. I didn't feel like offering up my box of castaways this time, since I am trying to downsize and I already have a stack of books I still need to read. But I will probably try it out going forward.

Third Place Books has a cool new service for book lovers. They have the new Espresso Book Machine (EBM). No, it isn't a way to lace the pages with caffeine so you can stay up late reading. The machine is a print-on-demand machine that allows you to create a paperback book in just a few minutes. They have one of only about 30 machines in the world, and one of only five in the country (there is also one in Bellingham).

So what do you print on the machine? Google has scanned in 2.5 million out-of-copyright books that are available to print. This could be great for those obscure, out of print editions. On Demand Books (the company that builds the machines) also has negotiated the rights to an additional 800,000 books. Third Place Books has an online search site where you can see what is available.

But probably the coolest use of the machine - unpublished writers can also produce a book from their work. There is an initial set up fee of about $50 to upload your pdf file, and then it is six cents a page. Until you get that big publishing contract, there is no need to carry any inventory, and you can get a copy in less than five minutes.

Bookstores and smaller publishing houses may be a growing market for the machine. From the Espresso Book Machine Wikipedia page:
"The direct-to-consumer model of the EBM eliminates shipping, warehousing, returns and pulping of unsold books, and allows simultaneous global availability of millions of new and backlist titles. These characteristics may in the future lower prices to consumers and libraries, and allow greater royalties and profits to authors and publishers."

A segment from KOMO News:

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