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Google Offering Print Versions of Online Books

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ungreppable-format dept.

Books 147

carluva writes "Google is teaming up with On Demand Books to offer paperback versions of its collection of over 2 million public domain books. The books will be able to be printed using ODB's Espresso Book Machine, which is already in use at several book stores and libraries and can print and bind a complete, paperback copy of a 300-page book in less than 5 minutes. Google and ODB each get $1 in royalties per book sold (Google has pledged to donate its proceeds to charities and nonprofit organizations). See also ODB's PDF press release."

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147 comments

Public domain!!! (1, Troll)

Zlurg (591611) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458035)

Let's be clear: only the public domain books. Basically, combine Guttenberg with Lulu and you have an equally ludicrous business proposition.

Re:Public domain!!! (5, Insightful)

Brandee07 (964634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458113)

There are LOTS of public domain books that are very hard to get a hold of in paper form. No publisher is going to reprint 200 year old books on obscure topics for which there is a market of 20 people. This makes those books accessible to those that need them, without the economies of scale that publishers rely on.

And pending the much-debated acquisition by Google of orphan books, they'll be a lot more obscure out-of-print books seeing life again.

Re:Public domain!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458197)

True, he is just pointing out that such a system already exists, using Project Gutenberg and a different on-demand publishing house.

Re:Public domain!!! (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458459)

If Lulu.com were able to strike a deal with Google to be the service provider for this, they would have. Lulu.com is EXPENSIVE for creating books. It's not clear what Google is planning on charging, but buying through Lulu.com costs a minimum of about $5 and that's without making a profit. If Google and the ODB are truly only scamming $2 off the top of sales then a comparable price compared to Lulu.com would be $7. I'd expect the price point for a Google/ODB copy to be closer to $4-5 to ensure nobody can come in and compete with them. And while I could be wrong, I'd expect Google/ODB to charge fair prices for all equivalent reproductions with no books costing some ridiculous amount "just because".

I'd also like to point out, Google/ODB books will be pure utility based on the picture in TFA. It seems like cover design has been thrown out the window and the paper they use is probably going to be as cheap as possible. This will lead to books that people would rather dispose (or donate) after they are done. So, it looks like you won't be building a library of Google printed books.

Re:Public domain!!! (3, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458531)

It's not clear what Google is planning on charging...

FTA, about $8 per book (including the pair of $1 fees going to ODB and Google), although a definite price hasn't been set.

$8 seems pretty fair to me...

Re:Public domain!!! (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458557)

Meanwhile google's doing the smartest move: they're donating their $1 to charity. So both a: doing a good cause and b: earning themselves a tax break.

That's what I call smart capitalism.

I do think the book deal needs to have some of the issues kinked out, but overall google is taking this in a very smart way.

Re:Public domain!!! (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458959)

FWIW, there's no tax break to donating cash. Well, there is, but it's outweighed by the fact that you, well, no longer have the cash.

Donating money is a dumb way to make money, unless the returns you get (PR, market-building, etc) outweigh the lost dollars. That doesn't mean it's not a good idea, or a good thing to do -- it's just that the tax writeoff is never more than the amount donated, so net cash impact is never positive.

Re:Public domain!!! (3, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459121)

It's a dumb way to make money, but google has enough of it. it is a good way to buy reputation capital as well as enforcing their company mission of making information accessible and not being evil.

"reputation capital" (1)

lannocc (568669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460455)

it is a good way to buy reputation capital...

Reputation capital. Such a great concept. If only we could survive on reputation capital, the world would be a much better place.

Re:Public domain!!! (0, Troll)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460913)

Even if the tax break never equals 100% that money is now going to something the donating company supports, rather than into government coffers where it will be spent on things like Haliburton and male prostitutes.
Now that the democrats are in power, what do they spend tax dollars on? Starbucks and rose colored glasses?

Re:Public domain!!! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458733)

If I were running this show, I'd offer the purchaser to buy one of three products at the time of purchase. One would be the low-grade book that costs five bucks. The next would be a higher-grade book suitable for rebinding with a decent cover for ten bucks. If you don't like it that much, you don't have to jump up to the better binding. Then you could order a nicer, more expensive version through the post, media mail, as the third level. I'd really rather have this than have shelves full of books; I see the appeal of the traditional bookstore though, and this could potentially save a lot of endangered small bookstores by bringing them relevance, if you could purchase other titles through it as well.

OMFG this comment will not get any better two minutes from now, submit already :(

Re:Public domain!!! (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458461)

True, he is just pointing out that such a system already exists, using Project Gutenberg and a different on-demand publishing house.

I guess the question is whether it uses the scans or the OCR'd text as the source for the reprint. If it's the scan, then that right puts it in a different league than the PG suggestion.

No thanks. (2, Interesting)

celibate for life (1639541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458081)

I can download public domain books to my Palm.

Re:No thanks. (5, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458163)

Given your user name I image your Palm is very important.

English, motherfucker, do you speak it? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458355)

You image? How do you image something? Since when has "image" become a verb?

Re:English, motherfucker, do you speak it? (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458401)

According to Websters the 14th century:

        * Main Entry: 2image
        * Function: transitive verb
        * Inflected Form(s): imaged; imaging
        * Date: 14th century

1 : to call up a mental picture of : imagine
2 : to describe or portray in language especially in a vivid manner
3 a : to create a representation of; also : to form an image of b : to represent symbolically

Of course, he could have also made a simple typo/brain slip.

Re:English, motherfucker, do you speak it? (2, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458639)

I use IE 8 at work, the lack of built in spell check is epic fail.

Re:English, motherfucker, do you speak it? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458677)

Well spell check wouldn't have helped you there. Even grammar check would have give you a pass probably. There was no reason for the guy to call you out on it. I am pretty sure everybody reading it understood what you meant and knew it to be a typo.

On the other hand, he made himself look like an idiot for not knowing that image actually can be used as a verb (especially somebody reading a tech forum - has he never imaged a computer?).

Re:No thanks. (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458485)

Given your user name, I don't want to imagine anything about you, lest I become a gibbering heap of slag-brained insanity.

Re:No thanks. (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458591)

I can download public domain books to my Palm.

In case you missed it, this is for people who prefer to read from paper over reading from a screen.

I see your Palm and raise you my iPhone. I can download books to that and have a very nifty app for doing so without having to turn pages (the phone's tilt controls the speed of the scroll) but to be honest I'm more inclined to read paper books. There's just something distracting about it being on a screen.

Re:No thanks. (1)

charlieman (972526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458889)

On other news, good bye trees!

Re:No thanks. (2, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459661)

On other news, good bye trees!

Books sequester carbon. So long as the ultimate source of the wood is a tree farm rather than a forest, not a big deal. (Of course paper from hemp, sisal, or other fibers would be even better.)

Re:No thanks. (2, Interesting)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459245)

The big problem with the iPhone (I have one) is that the screen is very small compared to a book, and I know that it will damage my eyesite if I read on it for a prolonged period, even with larger zoomed text. (then you have a too-frequent line wrapping problem) It is not pleasurable to read books articles on the iPhone. I only do it to alleviate boredom while waiting in line for something or sitting on the john.

I have 20/20 vision and I wish to keep it that way. I retain my eyesite by taking frequent breaks from my computer screen and not sitting too close or too far from it.

Re:No thanks. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459773)

the iPhone (I have one)

Well, lah-dee-dah.

Now *that's* circular (4, Funny)

Gorm the DBA (581373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458107)

So...I can now get a dead tree version of a scanned copy of a dead tree book?

How long before google starts a service to provide scanned copies of these new dead tree versions online and indexed?

Re:Now *that's* circular (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458169)

One old, fragile book just became a dozen, semi-decent copies in the hands of those who actually value that information.

Looks good from where I am sitting.

Re:Now *that's* circular (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459251)

Don't sit too close or you'll go blind.

Any more resolution in the prints? (5, Interesting)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458253)

I wonder if they will have any more resolution than the PDFs you can get from their online service. Some of the books have technical drawings that could use ahout 50 - 75 more DPI. Does anyone know if they were scanned in a higher native resolution than what they present online?

Re:Any more resolution in the prints? (2, Interesting)

itamblyn (867415) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460143)

I know that when you upload to youtube, Google keeps the original version, and offers a downsampled version over the web (presumably to reduce bandwidth/resource requirements). I assume that given the amount of money it takes to scan so many books, they would have used a very high resolution scanner - that's not the type of thing you want to have to go back and redo. What we see online probably aren't the high resolution originals.

Great! (4, Insightful)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458277)

This is a wonderful thing. It may make it much easier to publish new, low circulation books as well, since you don't need to reach a critical threshold sales number to make it worth printing. Of course, a 'book' (as in the physical form) may become obsolete over the next few decades as old curmudgeons like me who like reading printed material far more than reading off a screen drop off...

Re:Great! (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459133)

When you can get a tablet that will take a decent stylus or your finger, and has e-Ink but does video, THAT is going to revolutionize reading. Right now you can get all but e-Ink, or all but Video. The XO is as close as it gets and it's no book reader. Shareable annotations are a must. Open formats, likewise. Many are close...

Re:Great! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459679)

Right now, e-ink is VERY slow to refresh. Your video would be at 1 frame every second or two. But the savings on battery, and the super-crisp image are worth trading away video. Or just get a device with two screens.

Re:Great! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460631)

I really don't see any reason we can't have e-Ink overlaid with a transparent OLED video screen. They keep talking about how cheap OLED is supposed to become, why can't we just have a trivially replaceable screen if the lifetime of OLED is a problem? Perhaps if they got really crafty, it could have the booklite printed on the back of the video screen.

print? (0, Troll)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458321)

Print is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment compared to reading them on an ebook reader.

Re:print? (3, Funny)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458367)

Oh good, another reason to refuse to get an e-book reader.

Re:print? (0, Troll)

cbs4385 (929248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458871)

No kidding. I don't have nor want descendants, so what the hell am I saving the environment for exactly?

Re:print? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459869)

I don't have nor want descendants, so what the hell am I saving the environment for exactly?

I don't have descendants, though having them in the future is not out of the question. Still, I like to think that 50 or 100 years after my death, someone might stumble across a poem or something that I've written.

Ok, so that's artist's hubris, and pretty unlikely. I'd still like to see memes and works I like survive, even if they didn't hatch in my brain. I'd like someone to read Tennyson's "Ulysses" 50 or 100 years after my death, and have the feeling, the experience, that it evokes in me.

Re:print? (1, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458371)

Assuming, of course, that you use solar energy to power your ebook reader and not batteries...

Re:print? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458445)

According to actual research, you're wrong. eBook readers reduce net CO2 emissions.

http://earth2tech.com/2009/08/19/why-the-kindle-is-good-for-the-planet/ [earth2tech.com]

Re:print? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458519)

If you read the comments section of that link you see it isn't as clearcut as the article makes it seem. Even if the emissions end up on the plus side, the disposal and/or recycling of paper vs batteries probably offsets it.

Re:print? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458535)

Do you know if the actual report is available? I'm curious as to whether they are taking into account the carbon used for the powering of the kindle and the environmental impact of disposing a kindle and it's battery vs the ability to recycle the paper from books. It'd also be interested to know who funded the study, I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon's name was on there

Re:print? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458643)

According to actual research, you're wrong. eBook readers reduce net CO2 emissions.

The solution is to scale up the number of books you're talking about. If you have enough, you can do what I do and line the walls with them, thus increasing the effective insulation of your home. :)

Re:print? (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459803)

I printed that web page out, then placed it on my energy-hogging scanner, OCRd it, converted it to PDF and then read it on my Sony Reader - only to realize it was about the Kindle. What a waste.

Re:print? (2, Informative)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458501)

Actually, I'd be curious as to a reference for this. While I'm sure you are right once you start talking about 1000's of books, I'm equally sure the production of 1 paperback book is not 'extremely wasteful and bad for the environment' compared to one e-book reader. The key, of course, is how many books you read on your e-book reader before it, too, becomes e-waste.

A little googling revealed this Master's Thesis [umich.edu] on exactly this topic. I haven't read it in-depth yet, but it looks to strongly favor e-readers.

Sigh - I LIKE my printed books.

Re:print? (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458553)

It can never be an exact comparison. Think about those used textbooks you used to get in college. Those things were probably used by dozens of other students. The environmental cost of that book essentially stops immediately after it is created. The same title on eBook on the other hand has continuing cost every time it is read.

Re:print? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458649)

The same title on eBook on the other hand has continuing cost every time it is read.

Unless you're reading it on a PC (as I have spent long hours doing, don't get me wrong) the cost is very low, because most of the devices you'd actually want to read an eBook on are very low-power. I have an LED spot that I use as a late night reading light, and it only consumes 4W, way less than my netbook; at idle and dimmed screen, over 10W. (Another netbook here uses right about spot on 10W at idle.) But if you have an e-Ink device with an LED side-light then your power consumption is very low, and if you're getting that power at night then the electricity is basically going to waste otherwise, it's literally being sunk into carbon piles and crap like that. Why we can't be using it to make carbon fibers or something, I'll never know. A certain amount of that does go on, but not nearly enough...)

Re:print? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459621)

Dozens? Ha, Engineering books MAY have gotten used once before they were 'out of date'.

You're better off just keeping your used books. (Advice I wish I didn't listen to). Because the books are laid out in the exact way you learned it. The few books I did keep I can open my books nearly straight to the page of the topic I'm interested in.

Re:print? (2, Insightful)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459307)

Agreed. Print on demand is much more efficient in regards to resource utilization. Many books printed today do not sell completely and are returned to the publisher. They then tear off the covers, rendering them un-sellable. Hopefully these books are recycled into pulp for making more books.

With POD (print on demand) publishing, you get no wastage. The downside is the higher cost to publish a POD book. However, at the $8 level, depending on the page count or usefulness of the content, that price is within the relm of the reasonable. In another post on this topic I mentioned how much more it costs to do a full color photo book using POD publishing, which is way out of line with how much it costs to do a mass produced printing press version of same.

I have a feeling that we will not see a 100% electronic book world in our future, it will be a mix of POD and electronic. Even best-sellers could be POD produced at the store for anyone who wants them. No more inventory problems, except for bulk paper and ink supplies.

Re:print? (3, Insightful)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458529)

I'm one of those people that greatly savors a paper book. I have a nice little library of books that I keep around on two bookcases, and every now and then I'll browse over the shelves and go "Oh yea, I haven't read this one in 10 years, it deserves another go round." I also have a good sized collection of oversized art and photography books. These are particularly well suited to a permanent print format.

The thing is, if a major catastrophic event breaks down modern civilization, little to none of this electronic stuff is going to survive. There will be a big black hole, made especially worse with anything that was encrypted with DRM.

Think about things from antiquity that have survived to modern day - very well stored paper books, scrolls and things made out of clay, granite, stone and marble and very occasionally steel. That's about it.

Re:print? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458605)

I think about the same thing with our newspapers, photographs, music, etc. My father has hundreds of slides of us as kids. Even if the technology of a slide machine goes away it is still possible to view those pictures. Can't say the same thing for all the pictures I've take on recent vacations - some of which I probably haven't backed up.

Re:print? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458675)

I'm going to respect the slashdot tradition of bad car analogies, here...

I'm one of those people that greatly savors a paper book.

And many people greatly savor riding horses. That didn't stop the automobile.

if a major catastrophic event breaks down modern civilization

Yes, with the breakdown of civilization, the horse riders will be in better shape, too. Do you ride a horse to prepare for this potential catastrophe?

At any rate, flash drives containing thousands of books each spread accross the entire earth are actually better for archival purposes than paper. We can never have another burning of the library at Alexandria; there are too many copies. And the costs of perfectly preserving old data are effectively zero, as storage costs continue to plummet. We don't need monks dutifully making copies of scrolls as the scrolls age. We just copy our book collections instantly and flawlessly to the new storage tech as it becomes available.

Re:print? (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459003)

I can't really argue with the first part - this part, I have a small nit to pick:

At any rate, flash drives containing thousands of books each spread accross the entire earth are actually better for archival purposes than paper. We can never have another burning of the library at Alexandria; there are too many copies. And the costs of perfectly preserving old data are effectively zero, as storage costs continue to plummet. We don't need monks dutifully making copies of scrolls as the scrolls age. We just copy our book collections instantly and flawlessly to the new storage tech as it becomes available.

You are assuming that all the books are recopied on a regular basis. NASA has had quite a bit of trouble retreving information from the magnetic tapes which stored the data from the Apollo missions, not so much because the tapes demagnetized, but because no records documenting the format of those tapes were located, and the designers of those formats weren't around anymore. Format loss is a signficant problem in the long term. In 50 years, do you think USB ports, FAT32 formatted flash-drives and UTF-8 will all still be in common use? Whenever I see someone use the words, 'never', ' instantly', and 'flawlessly' and other absolutes, I get suspicious of their argument. When it comes to preserving things for durations beyond a human lifespan, electronics are still relatively untested in practice.

But deep down inside, I know that e-books will probably win the day in the next decade or two; much like horses, physical books will probably become a niche item someday. Unless we screw them up royally with DRM or something. Amazing Xerox didn't appoint an armed guard by each photocopier they made to protect against possible copyright violations!

Re:print? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459145)

Your NASA example demonstrates the opposite of what you think it does. NASA had only a single copy of some data. That's a risky proposition no matter what the technology. But other data NASA tried to recover--the moon landing footage--actually was recovered because there were multiple copies. This is the case with ebooks today.

With thousands of copies of ebooks living of flash chips, RAIDs, optical disks, and magnetic disks throughout the Earth and the nearby celestial bodies, it won't be hard to recover old data; it will be hard to destroy old data. Think of Linus's quote about how he does backups, if you aren't following me ;-)

As for formats of data: most data will be copied from old tech to new as new tech becomes available. I don't need a floppy disk reader to read the documents I wrote ten years ago. I moved them along with all my other data to my NAS. But even supposing the unlikely scenario in which only copy of some data is on a flash chip with an outdated interface, you must admit that would be easier to access in the future than using electron microscopes and other fancy imaging techniques archaeologists are already using on scrolls.

Re:print? (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459059)

As long as those thousands of copies are not DRM encrypted.

Also, all the books I own were mass produced using the printing press, something the monk scholars did not have. So there already are thousands of copies of the books I have circulating around. Bad analogy is right. Most good old books do not get thrown away or destroyed on purpose, they are passed around, bought and sold and remain in private collections and in libraries. The electronic books kept on a thumb drive have the same chance of being lost by fire, flood or other natural cause as one copy of a press book, with the further chance that there could be no electricity or computers to read them by down the road.

With a paper book, it takes only the book itself and the knowledge to interpret the letters to read it. With an e-book, you need another device that relies on an electricity grid to recharge or power it. That other device can also break down over time (older motherboards almost always become unusable without repair thanks to capacitor and other semiconducter breakdowns). This creates an untenable chain of requirements to keep them in readable order in a world devoid of technological infrastructure.

Re:print? (2, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459567)

And your mass-produced paperbacks will be yellowed flakes in a 100-200 years or so.

I've got books less than 50 years old that are already yellow and brittle, despite the lack of sunlight and low humidity in my proverbial basement.

Re:print? (1)

Starker_Kull (896770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458763)

I'm in the same boat - my girlfriend and I have a combined library of around 2,000 books. There is a certain pleasure in browsing around, finding something you haven't read for a long time (or was from her library rather than mine)...

I realize that just about every argument I come up with for the superiority of printed books is pretty weak; the only four that are significant are 1) Books (good ones) can last 100's of years, 2) No power source needed, 3) Readability better (600 dpi+ vs. 160 dpi for typical e-book readers), 4) Better chance to survive civilization collapses.

Even these items are a bit of a stretch, and are likely to change within a decade. I suppose people with actual, physical libraries of books may be considered eccentrics fairly soon....

Re:print? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459501)

Really?

an EMP pulse causes hard drives that are off (or CD's or DVD's) to stop working?

My computer won't boot up because the internet or power companies are gone?

I highly doubt, aside from a nuclear attack on multiple major points of interest, would EVER take down "modern civilization" to the point where we are solely relying on paperback books and such.

Re:print? (2, Funny)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460017)

I'm one of those people that greatly savors a paper book. I have a nice little library of books that I keep around on two bookcases

Um, my friend...if your "library" fits on two bookcases, you are not one of those people that greatly savors a paper book. :-) Come back when vistors aren't sure if they've found your house, or a used book store.

Re:print? (1)

carluva (963158) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458603)

Possibly, but this at least eliminates the need for shipping the printed books (which weigh a LOT) all over the world. Plus, for me at least, I can only spend maybe five minutes at a time reading from a computer screenâ"and I'm even a Gen Y computer programmer. There's something about reading from a computer screen that is just a lot harder than reading from a paper.

Re:print? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458707)

Your concerns are with backlit screens. eBook readers use an entirely different technology: eink. They effectively print pages on demand, erasing the print-out each time you turn the page.

Re:print? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458693)

using an electronic device is not even close to being greener than the cost of producing something from paper.

Difference: we grow the trees we use to make paper, thus the CO2 cost is only twice: negatively (loss) upon creation (growing the tree, not processing the paper), and upon recycling (positively (gain). Does this CO2 get released into the atmosphere? No. The paper manufacturers actually use a techniques to recycle the same CO2 back to power the machines used to produce the paper, net 0. KapStone paper [blogvesting.com]is a company I can cite which does this. They are self sufficient and are carbon neutral.

With an ebook, your energy usage is shared with all your books, but you can infinitely go back and read an old book and add more energy cost/usage, not to mention the battery disposal issues. We have energy in great quantities in the world, but it is not all 100% efficient nor free.

Have you ever heard of producing the plastics in a kindle being carbon neutral or being environmentally friendly? Answer is, it's not. Ebooks are better at what they do. That doesn't mean green.

It is good to be green, but to do it in real ways and not simply feel good about it. Lots of people and companies are smart enough to realize that simply "getting rid" of a source of anything that has emissions in some form is not the right approach.

Re:print? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458903)

You just said that books don't require shipping, and that all of them somehow use zero net carbon in manufacturing. You are undeniably factually incorrect.

So what? (0)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459187)

Print is extremely wasteful and bad for the environment compared to reading them on an ebook reader.

I don't care. Reading isn't just a mental pleasure for me, it's a tactile pleasure. I like the feel of the pages in my fingers. I love the smell of the paper. And since I work in technology and spend the vast majority of my time with it, I need those periods where I can unplug and relax with a book. I simply don't like reading books on a screen.

Increasingly, it looks like we might be forced to sacrifice a lot to the god of "green". But he's not getting my books.

why are royalties being donated to charity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458423)

If Google wants to donate its money to charity or non-profits, why doesn't it just apply this as a discount and let me decide where to donate my money? It's a noble idea, but flawed.

The cheaper a good becomes, the more I can afford to buy - especially with discretionary purchases such as books. More books purchased means the cost of printing them goes down - something that will benefit us all.

The fact that I have yet to see such a wonderful book-printing machine near me suggests that a really economical product could help create local demand.

Re:why are royalties being donated to charity? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458621)

Maybe because Google knows that you aren't likely to write a $1 check to charity each time you buy a book, and it can make a bigger impact donating in larger sums.

I'm also completely confident still getting a financial incentive of the tax write-off for donations to charity while gaining some moral high-ground on those opposed to them having so much control over books has absolutely nothing to do with it. *shifty eyes*

Re:why are royalties being donated to charity? (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458647)

Tax deductions. If they reduce the price by a $1 they receive absolutely no benefit. By taking your dollar and then donating to a charity they get a tax deduction.

Re:why are royalties being donated to charity? (2)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459461)

either your tax system is retarded OR you really don't get how tax deductions work. If you donate you don't pay tax on your donation, you however don't get more money back than if you had never had that money at all.

Re:why are royalties being donated to charity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458823)

Because you're not actually going to donate that $1 to charity, be honest now.

NO ODB joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458443)

Nobody's made an ODB/Ol' Dirty Bastard joke yet? Someone here's gotta listen to Wu Tang.

Re:NO ODB joke? (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458569)

Nobody's made an ODB/Ol' Dirty Bastard joke yet? Someone here's gotta listen to Wu Tang.

This is slashdot, not Digg. If someone here was to make a joke about ODB, it would more likely have something to do with ODBC being originally developed by Microsoft, yet ODB is publishing books with Google and that conundrum is leading to the end of civilization as we know it, or something.

Re:NO ODB joke? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458801)

Nobody's made an ODB/Ol' Dirty Bastard joke yet? Someone here's gotta listen to Wu Tang.

This is slashdot, not Digg. If someone here was to make a joke about ODB, it would more likely have something to do with ODBC being originally developed by Microsoft, yet ODB is publishing books with Google and that conundrum is leading to the end of civilization as we know it, or something.

This is Slashdot, explaining how both of you managed to miss this post [slashdot.org].

Bargain price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458467)

Out of print books usually cost tens or hundreds of dollars. $8 for Espresso Book - Awesome!!!

So... (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458483)

>> Google is teaming up with On Demand Books to offer paperback versions of its collection of over 2 million public domain books

So... this is the long tail in action?

And can I order these for delivery from the Google website?

Already done for over two years (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458495)

There is already a site offering POD services for both Google Books and Internet Archive for over two years and it is done at cost:

PublicDomainReprints.org [publicdomainreprints.org]

oh, the irony (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29458521)

Thanks for lousy the AP article. Let's see...for a story about a great technology used to print books, I'll submit a link to a website read by those most hostile to science/technology, those who are not to keen about books that cover anything outside their narrow ideological realm. AND it's a friggin AP release. thank you so much for the effort!

Do they realize it could be used to print books about queers and such?!?!? Oh dear god nooooo... /sarcasm

yeah, mod me -1024 flamebait. Or, try this link http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/google-books-publish-on-demand/ [wired.com] or this one http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10355318-265.html [cnet.com]

About damn time (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458577)

on demand printing started picking up.

really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

Re:About damn time (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458909)

really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

That makes sense for items with low demand. But I wonder if traditional distribution is more efficient for items with large demand.

I'd also question the quality control for the small on-demand printing setups... as well as the quality of on-demand burnt software (there's no way they'll last as long as pressed discs).

For software it's kind of moot, anyway... online distribution is where that's heading.

Books yes, software no (2, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459127)

really, I shoudl be able to go to a bok store and get the book I want made on the spot. At software stores, they should burn the software on demand.

For book stores, yes, good idea. But software stores are basically obsolete. Geekoid, I don't know what country you live in, but in most industrialized countries, this would already be obsolete for software. The difference between the two markets is one of tactile preference; most people prefer to read paper pages still. But with software, there's no such factor. Software is software, no matter who burns it for you. And there simply aren't enough dial-up only users left to justify a physical software store based on convenience. Widespread broadband killed places like the old mall software chains. Google for "software shops in..." and the suggestion box is filled mostly with third world cities where broadband isn't widespread yet. Software is a tough brick-and-mortar business in the US, even for places like Office Depot now. If it's cheap enough... say, under a hundred bucks or so, you just download it yourself and pay via paypal or credit card. If it's very expensive, then you're planning the purchase, and will order via mail usually. On-demand software burning would have been a great idea during the dial-up era. But now it would be like "Hey, I've got this great idea for propulsion... it's called the steam engine!".

Re:About damn time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459459)

They used to do that for Amiga games around these parts.

$2 books plus shipping and handling? (1)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458619)

So will all the books be $2 plus shipping?

Re:$2 books plus shipping and handling? (1)

carluva (963158) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458683)

From the linked article: "The books published by The Espresso Machine will have a recommended sales price of $8 per copy, although the final decision will be left to each retailer."

Re:$2 books plus shipping and handling? (1)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459195)

Discounting the cost of printing the book. POD (print on demand) publication as compared to traditional mass press printings is still expensive due to the cost of developing and operating the machine and individually handling each book. Black and white interior paperbacks have become fairly inexpensive however. For what you're getting for ~$8, it's pretty reasonable. I'm still hoping that full color POD printing will come down in price. If I want to make a POD photo book, the cost through the various online POD publishers (lulu, xlibris, etc.) makes it prohibitive to turn even a small profit or sell a photo book for what people are accustomed to paying. You can get beautiful, large format mass printed photo books at Barnes and Noble for a fraction of the price of a POD book. The POD revolution has not quite reached all sectors yet when I have to charge $55 for my 8 1/2 X 11 photo book.

Re:$2 books plus shipping and handling? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459467)

How many pages and, if you don't mind, how much of a markup are you putting on it?

Glossy is still fairly expensive, although I've gotten some nice quotes from non-POD places

Re:$2 books plus shipping and handling? (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460133)

So will all the books be $2 plus shipping?

Forgetting the price for a minute, there is a definite "no" on shipping:

Neller said heâ(TM)d love to see the day when Google Book Searchers can press a button next to a search result and find the closest local printer, but Google says thatâ(TM)s a long way off. -- wired.com [wired.com]

Another implication is that this is limited to brick-and-mortar shops where OnDemandBooks have a presence, which in turn means that to use this service you have to be physically present at one of just thirteen locations in the world [ondemandbooks.com] -- five in the US, four in Canada, two in the UK, and one each in Egypt and Australia. More locations coming soon, none of them in my country. :-(

Print this book (2, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458711)

....Abbie Hoffman isn't going to appreciate this, me thinks.

Re:Print this book (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#29458913)

Abbie Hoffman isn't going to appreciate this, me thinks.

Just need to invent a print splitter that looks like one printer on the network, but is many.

Location Location Location? (1)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 4 years ago | (#29459175)

Yay! at any of a handful of US locations! Great!

Unfortunately the machine to print these books starts around $80k (slow black and white printer) goes to $100k (fast color printer) (does not include instillation, training, or a 10mbit internet connection with a static IP)... I'm guessing that the rate of new instillation won't be all that great for quite some time... I'll be waiting a long while (or driving more than 6 hours) to get my printed, out-of-print books...

Re:Location Location Location? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459471)

as opposed to right now, were no matter how far you feel like driving, you wont be able to get your rare out of print books for a few dollars newly printed.

Maybe, just mabye, an online delivery option would make a nice business to start? Bueller?

Re:Location Location Location? (1)

jdbannon (1620995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29460039)

It's a bit worse than that I think. Stated costs do not include:

  • Cost of floor space.
  • Time-value of money tied to supplies.
  • Reprints of defective titles.
  • Cost of multiple skilled employees dedicated to running.
  • Maintenance.
  • Insurance

Also, for an "I want it now!" service it's really, really slow. As the service get's popular, the line gets longer and it becomes less useful.

The skill-sets and equipment necessary to sell books are completely unrelated to what's needed to manufacture them. The idea of books being printed in the bookstore is completely awesome and completely impractical.

What would be good is POD manufacture then ship next day. Practical, cheaper, reliable, better quality. I'd buy it.

Royalties for public domain material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29459559)

How do you figure it's a "royalty" when the books are in the public domain? It seems to me those are just fees.

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