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Vending Machine For Books Coming Next Year

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i've-heard-of-worse-ideas dept.

Books 214

An anonymous reader writes "CNN writes about a $50,000 machine that can print books on demand. It can print up to 550 pages and put a binding on the book in seven minutes. It will be debuting in a select number of U.S. libraries in 2007. The machine is the 'output' end of a service called On Demand Books, which is also just debuting. From the article: 'Some 2.5 million books are now available - about one million in English and no longer under copyright protection. On Demand accesses the volumes through Google and the Open Content Alliance, among other sources. [Co-founder Dane] Neller predicts that within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed.'"

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hear that sound? (3, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346708)

CNN writes about a $50,000 machine that can print books on demand. It can print up to 550 pages and put a binding on the book in seven minutes.

I' not sure if you hear that sound. It's faint, but i'm pretty sure it's lulu.com shriveling up and dying. Much like when you pour salt on a snail.

Re:hear that sound? (3, Funny)

aerthling (796790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346742)

Well, unless that vending machine can also print magical diamond-toothed attachments for its books that are capable of burrowing through the earth to me in rural Australia, I wouldn't worry about lulu.com shriveling up and dying just yet.

Re:hear that sound? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346876)

If only there was some transportation method that could travel across or above the waters surrounding Australia. Like say, a boat. Or a plane. And motivation for the expansion of the vending machine program to such a pissant country. Like say, currency.

Re:hear that sound? (2, Funny)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346930)

And motivation for the expansion of the vending machine program to such a pissant country. Like say, literacy.

Fixed and bracing for impact. Do with me as you like, mods. *spreads cheeks*

Re:hear that sound? (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347006)

Well I'll be darned. Now if only they could invent something to get those damned kids off my lawn...

Not good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346712)

I won't bother. It only prints books already published. Now if it printed books from the future I could consider going to a library.

Too slow (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347048)

Buy two books. Wait 15 minutes? This won't fly.

Re:Too slow (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347076)

It will- for rare books and out of prints. If I'm looking for a book by my favorite author, I'll happily wait 15 minutes, rather than be told its out of stock and needs to be special ordered.

Re:Too slow (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17347108)

and find out 16 minutes later the book's last chapters are illegible due to the printer running out of ink. (I know I'd flip through the first book I bought like this)

Re:Too slow (1)

WFFS (694717) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347334)

There is a book by an Australian author that still hasn't come out in Australia, a year after it was published. I'm not going to pay an arm and a leg to ship it out from the US, so this is a great alternative for those books you otherwise have to wait for.

Re:Too slow (3, Interesting)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347082)

Actually, the video said that depending on the speed of the printers that were used, it might theoretically be able to be as fast as one book per minute. Presumably the one book in seven minutes is the speed that the prototype that's been in operation since March is able to deliver.

Cool! (1)

ZzzzSleep (606571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346716)

Call me as soon as they produce on of these that can print out Neil Stephenson tomes.

Bah! (2, Funny)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346726)

Have people completely given up on the idea that our society won't last forever? Dammit, I'm going to want books when the oil runs out! What will I do if they're all on hard drives?

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346750)

you sir are clearly a slashdotter seeing as how you've even given up on reading the fscking summary

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346770)

You could just plug it in to your human powered OLPC ?

Re:Bah! (4, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346852)

Oh, there's nothing to worry about. Our overlords will simply reload the matrix.

Duh. Now, get back to metabolizing, coppertop.

Re:Bah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346888)

What if people burn the books to keep warm if the oil runs out?

Re:Bah! (2, Interesting)

Paranoia Agent (887026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346912)

Carbon Monoxide poisoning during severe winter weather actually happens from people burning things(like books, coal etc.) to keep warm. It happens.

Re:Bah! (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347018)

Carbon Monoxide poisoning during severe winter weather actually happens from people burning things(like books, coal etc.) to keep warm. It happens.

Sadly, many people just don't realize this. For example, Seattle was hit with a huge windstorm last week that knocked out power to nearly a million people. It was so bad that there are still people over a week later that don't have power restored yet. Over the past week, 6 or 7 different people died from CO poisoning and over a hundred were treated and survived. All of them were doing blatantly stupid things like running a generator in their garage or basement (afraid of it being stolen if it was outside, I guess) or using a charcoal grill inside to keep warm.

Re:Bah! (1)

livewire98801 (916940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347042)

I live in the Seattle area, and one of the local newspapers (the P-I, I think) had a front page in about eight languages that had warnings about burning things indoors to keep warm. One of my co-workers lives by Microsoft and is still without power. Wish our infastructure was more underground here. . .

Re:Bah! (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347364)

Wish our infastructure was more underground here. . .

Wouldn't have mattered much if evergreen roots ripped up the lines. If anything, it would take even longer to restore power that way. It would be better if people would properly maintain their trees. That includes the government, as my power went out thanks to all of the downed trees in the state park near my house.

I'm looking at investing in a generator installation (looking at a stationary natural gas solution right now) since I now know that PSE doesn't really value me as a customer (it took them three days to even send out a crew, and five days to fully restore power).

Re:Bah! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347064)

100 sick and 6 or 7 people dead? That's hardly any casualties at all. Look at what storms or earthquakes do to major cities in third world countries. We've got it made here, even the dumb-asses by and large don't get themselves killed.

Re:Bah! (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347214)

Look at what storms or earthquakes do to major cities in third world countries. We've got it made here
New Orleans

Re:Bah! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17347462)

Wasn't that a third world country?

Re:Bah! (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347376)

100 sick and 6 or 7 people dead? That's hardly any casualties at all. Look at what storms or earthquakes do to major cities in third world countries. We've got it made here, even the dumb-asses by and large don't get themselves killed.

When you consider that the nationwide average of CO posioning cases is only around 1500 cases per year, 100 cases of poisoning and 6 or 7 deaths in the span of a week is alarming.

Note that I am in no way trying to equate our "little" windstorm to a Katrina-style hurricane or earthquake. Power out for a week and only a few people dead (I think 4 people died directly from the storm) is nothing. However the CO deaths could've been totally avoided.

Re:Bah! (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347100)

Dammit, I'm going to want books when the oil runs out! What will I do if they're all on hard drives?

Rip open your R/C car. Take out its Mabuchi 540 motor. Make it spin. Ta Da!

The motor doesn't care how you make it spin. Just get it spinning and electricity comes out of it.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to wrap a string around the shaft with a weight on the ends. Lift one of the weights, let go. Ta Da! Power to the people.

At least until the weight hits the floor. Rinse and repeat. There are various methods for lifting weights and controling the rate of fall without invoking oil/coal. You can always hire someone to lift the weight for you (In South Australia I was born. heave away! Haul away! Work songs often have an odd meter to the modern ear. They're written in five. On the fifth beat you take a rest).

KFG

pulp (2, Funny)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346756)

and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.

Pffft (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346958)

It's called hemp. Paper. Slap in some hemp paper and the hippies will quiet down. Now just to find a cheap source of hemp.

Re: How they are wrong (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346970)

Trees are like batteries. They store junk they capture from the atmosphere.

Now, trees grow old and become less effective with regards to their size. So it's best to replace them at some point.

But, if we burn them, all the bad stuff goes back up in smoke. Thus, the need to conserve them in solid state.

The best way to cleanup the air, is to build houses with trees that are past their prime. Paper can also be pretty good, if it's not bleached.

Once more, just like Europe is a social failure, the tree-hugging left is wrong.

Re: How they are wrong (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346986)

You also forgot to mention that we have laws that state that when you cut a tree down in the US, you need to plant 2 more somewhere. These laws theoretically need to be changed because the number of trees will slowly grow; but in reality, all the trees you plant won't grow, and when they get too dense they compete for light and ground resources and some die. Either way, we're not really net killing trees.

Re: How they are wrong (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347116)

Either way, we're not really net killing trees.

Well of course not, silly. You have to long line for trees.

KFG

Re: How they are wrong (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347372)

Either way, we're not really net killing trees.
Well of course not, silly. You have to long line for trees.
Especially killing trees. A killing tree will go through a steel reinforced net in less than a second, and will have your arm off unless you're lucky.

Re: How they are wrong (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347388)

Sigh, that doesn't actually make sense. Oh well, more coffee.

Re: How they are wrong (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347228)

You also forgot to mention that we have laws that state that when you cut a tree down in the US, you need to plant 2 more somewhere. ... Either way, we're not really net killing trees.
Because two saplings >= a full-grown tree?

Re: How they are wrong (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347002)

I think the point for tree huggers is we're cutting down trees faster then we're planting them (I believe proof of this is seen by more and more nature preserves being opened up to tree loggers, but I may be wrong).

Re: How they are wrong (1)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347072)

Once more, just like Europe is a social failure
Yes, and the US is going swimmingly, no-one's living below the poverty line there!

I thought about this earlier this year (1)

Skythe (921438) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347152)

I was at university with a friend who happens to go to a catholic university, who decided to tease me about all our junky food vending machines. My reply was something along the lines of "Better than bible vending machines (joking)". But does anyone actually know of any obscure vending machines like that?

We also have a coffee machine that is notorious for making anything but coffee. Of the 3 times i used it, first it gave me coffee with no milk, second it gave me coffee without a cup (which was quite embarrasing, and no i did not press the "byo mug" button) and the third time also yielded coffee with no milk.

Re:I thought about this earlier this year (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347288)

Was it almost, but not quite, entirely unlike coffee?

Re:pulp (4, Interesting)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347190)

and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.

Not necessarily.
As I don't live in the USA, I'm not a member of the party you're referring to, but I tend to vote green in our local elections - and I think this may be a good idea, even from an environmental perspective.
The reason is simple; I can be relatively sure that a book printed by this machine will be used. If someone is explicitly asking it to print a specific book, pay the cash for it (as I assume it will come with a fee), and wait seven minutes there's a high probability that there is actually a demand for the book. Compare this with dead tree books available today, that are printed in large series, where a certain percentage of the total amount printed is destined to never be opened at all - much less read.

Nothing makes my environmentalist heart weep as much as resources that are spent but never used.

Re:pulp (5, Insightful)

kjart (941720) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347294)

and the machine is powered by the flow of tears from green party members.

Why? This would potentially be better for the environment. Rather than a publisher printing X copies of a book, Y of which wont sell (Y may not be much smaller than X, depending on the book) a book is only printed when someone actually wants to buy it. No overstock, no waste.

One word: (3, Funny)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346760)

Neller predicts that within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed...

Textbooks

Re:One word: (1)

EtherealStrife (724374) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346920)

heh my initial thought too.

the production cost is about a penny per page

Last quarter I had an open notes (but closed laptop) exam that covered around 500 pages of online material. After binding that was almost 30 bucks, but damn 5 bucks if I ordered through this thing, and printed in minutes? Even if you doubled the pages to make the font legible that would be a steal.

Re:One word: (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346944)

I'd wager that this system's pricing is like Lulu's: a per-page cost, then a binding cost (depending on the binding type and cover size), and then if you're not nearby, obviously, a shipping cost.

Re:One word: (2, Informative)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347400)

"but damn 5 bucks if I ordered through this thing"

No. A penny per page is the *production* cost--what it costs the machine's owner in raw materials and electricity to print. Also it appears to be currently limited to the sort of books you can get on Project Gutenberg (i.e., public domain).

Re:One word: (1)

EtherealStrife (724374) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347550)

Most of the online materials I draw on are publicly available and reproducible journal articles, but limited to non-profit reproduction and for academic purposes (the going standard, from what I've encountered in the informatics and compsci fields). My uni's copy center runs at a slight loss after staffing (the staff are paid through fa work programs, to justify the loss), so there's no profit to be had. As for the vending machines, it really depends on how they're run. If they're purchasable by organizations for nonprofit use (colleges, libraries, etc) then the production cost would be the only cost to the end user. However, if it's a true vending machine there would be severe limitations on what could legally be printed. The article mentioned Google's ethically (and perhaps legally) questionable project as a source of printables, and if these were being sold for a profit I don't see On Demand Books making it through the storm of lawsuits. The article mentioned debuts at bookstores, which implies the latter method. :( It's a shame companies are so often too greedy for their own good.

Re:One word: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346932)

art books
technical manuals
any books with photographs
reproductions of historical books and manuscripts
books with unique fonts (or non-arabic script)
graphic novels
most children's books
etc
etc
etc

Re:One word: (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347034)

graphic novels

Can this thing deal with images as well as text? Or is it limited to text?

Re:One word: (1)

witchgirl (965487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347130)

It does laminated coloured covers, so it probably can print out images too within the book. That would be helpful for textbooks and more physics- or children-minded books too, they do contain diagrams and such that would need some image handling printing to be able to be printed properly.

or (3, Interesting)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346766)

...or have it in digital format for half the price. Plug up a USB compliant storage device (cellphone for instance) and you own it in seven seconds, not seven minutes. If seven seconds is too long, you can download it later from your GoogleBooks account. Your fifteen year old Okidata laser printer could print it, but why waste paper like one of those stupid machines.

Re:or (2, Informative)

fortunato (106228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346794)

Probably because books are a handy, cheap format to have information in. I can sit in my hot tub and read a book. I won't do that with my latest electronic gizmo of the day. Its cheaper to replace the book than my gizmo if I accidentally drop what I'm reading in the water. And I can always just dry out the book and it still "works." ;)

Re:or (3, Insightful)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346870)

And nobody will ever invent a reading gizmo that is bathtub friendly, that's for sure. Do you really soak in a tub and read on a regular basis? It is pretty damned clear to me [wikipedia.org] that this is not going to be an issue in the fairly near future.

People that are proud to own actual copies of actual books will continue to purchase the Real Deal(TM) and not some convenience machine regurgitation. The only toe-hold on sustainability I can see for such a marketing scheme is in airports, for about seven years.

This concept just feels a bit like a photo booth at a mall or amusement park - a nice novelty but not particularly common or successful.

Re:or (2, Funny)

Paranoia Agent (887026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346900)

Put the book vending machine in your tub. I know this is impactical, especially if you enjoy longer books.

Re:or (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346904)

Depends on the culture, photo booths are prevalent in France (think plot of Amelie).
They're at many malls and train/subway stations. They seem to be the standard format
for (self-supplied!) pictures for IDs.

Re:or (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346926)

The situation isn't that simple. Lets look at some of the "PoD People" out there.

  * Would-be authors: For every one book that's published, there's a hundred that aren't. There is a huge glut of supply in books. This drives a lot of authors to desperation. Many turn to vanity presses, foolishly hoping to get big. They think that they have what it takes to be the next J.K. Rowling. They don't. Yes, there are problems with the publishing industry. Much of what makes a bestseller has to do with promotion. But if you can't get a big house to read you or an agent to sign you, odds are bloody good that your work is not that good.

Lower PoD cost will make their day, and hopefully push vanity presses out of business.

For those not familiar with the term, a "Vanity" press is a publisher that you pay to print and (supposedly) promote your book. The reality is that they have no incentive for you to make it big, and so just overcharge you for printing. Lulu and cafepress are a less scummy version of "self publishing": they tend to act only as printers. You'll still go nowhere, but you'll blow less of your money in doing so. This is just the next step.

  * Legitimate publishers: There are some very messed up things in the way that the print world works currently, and it ends up wasting a lot of money.

1) Print run size guestimates. Publishers have to guess at how much a book is going to sell. The larger they guess, the cheaper the unit cost is, but the more likely they'll get stuck with a warehouse full of unsold books. The hope is that PoD will make producing a single book cost the same as producing a large number of books, and that they can produce them as orders come in. One big beneficiary will be small-time authors: if a publisher isn't taking as much of a risk, they can take on more clients and ones less likely to hit it big.

2) Returns. This is a really silly thing about the industry. Big book chains not only get big discounts, but they also get obscenely kind return policies. If a seller orders a bunch of books, they can return them at the publisher's expense if they don't sell. They can do this with a large chunk of their total inventory. Indie bookstores can do this too, but not as much. This blows a huge amount of money in shipping costs. Miss Snark (one of the most famous agent bloggers) once complained about a bookstore that was relocating across the street who simply returned most of their books, then reordered them at the across the street location. Most returns won't get resold, so they're just waste. Cost-effective PoD could seriously alter this situation.

The key is the phrase cost-effective. Cost-effective includes quality as well.

Re:or (2, Insightful)

badspyro (920162) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346980)

Last time I checked (although that WAS a while ago), Bloomsbury WAS a small publising company, and one that was not particulaly high on J.K Rowlings list of publishers.
Just because some doesn't get published doesn't mean that the book isn't good, it just means that the publisher doesn't think it can be profitable.

Re:or (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347208)

Also, Eragon was originally published by a small publishing company formed by the author's parents.

A lot of small press companies are using print-on-demand to get their works printed, rather than contracting for traditional print services. The tabletop roleplaying game industry does this a lot, and also sells PDFs that gamers can buy and have printed and bound at Kinko's. Personally, I'd a lot rather have it printed and bound by one of those POD machines; given that the POD machine is supposed to produce a professional-quality book, it would probably be head and shoulders above what Kinko's turns out. Might even be cheaper too.

Re:or (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347246)

One big beneficiary will be small-time authors: if a publisher isn't taking as much of a risk, they can take on more clients and ones less likely to hit it big.

They are still taking a fairly good sized risk - editing and producing a book, along with promoting it still costs real money. Unlike printing costs (which can and are partially recouped by pulping and recycling returns), these costs are totally sunk.
 
In addition, from a bookstores POV, these machines are a *huge* risk - they are significant capital investments that will require the sale of many books to recoup the investment. From a publishers POV, the same applies - unless you are moving a lot of books, the capital investment is daunting.

Re:or (3, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347136)

Your fifteen year old Okidata laser printer could print it, but why waste paper like one of those stupid machines.

Because a good book is not a waste of paper and my 1895 printing of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland works just as well today as the day it was new.

Of course it's hardbound. My paperback copy of The Blind Watchmaker is now effectively a loseleaf edition. We are Devo. Dee Eee Vee Ooh!

KFG

Re:or (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347382)

...or have it in digital format for half the price.

When was the last time you received a product manual and actually read the thing? Probably about the same time when they started being distributed exclusively in electronic form, right?

I've got a drive filled with everything from O'Reilly books in html, PDF versions of texts I purchased and didn't purchase, and a seemingly infinite amount of documentation that's too long to read on screen and too short or of too little interest to the unwashed mashes to merit being stocked in bookstore that serves lattes.

You can keep your e-whatever. I've already invested in a quality printer, but have no interest in purchasing and maintaining duplexing equipment, or binding equipment, or otherwise reading books constructed from letter sized paper. Or worse, curling up in bed a with a 3-ring binder. I am, however, interested in reading what I already have available. And the best format for that is still a book. If someone comes up with an easily accessible device that can take care of all this for me, my wallet's open.

And as for wasting paper, I can't think of a better use for paper (and, by extension, trees) than a printed book. And unlike your USB device, completely recyclable.

call me when i can get a REAL ebook (0, Offtopic)

Lolzownz (888492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346774)

Wheres my ebook that looks like a book and has dual lcd screens, thats what i really want is an ebook i can take with me that looks like a real book. a book that i can change the content of on demand. oh, and i want it to be nearly free. Thnx Lolz (555)555-5555

The manufacturer has a website (5, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346812)

I'm surprised the writeup didn't include the manufacturer's website [ondemandbooks.com] , which includes a Quicktime movie of the machine in operation [ondemandbooks.com] . It's a pretty neat-looking machine, though considerably larger than the "ATM for books" illustration that they came up with for the news story would suggest—about the size of one of those huge printers that sit behind the counter at Kinko's.

Re:The manufacturer has a website (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347062)

Nice. They did a good job of making it look like something from an early 1980's space adventure television series. I'm thinking Buck Rogers...

Re:The manufacturer has a website (1)

elgatozorbas (783538) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347438)

Thanks for the link! From the video it appears that then put together different machinery they were already producing. This gives the machine a more or less homebrew touch. I also wonder how reliable it is. Considering the number of paper jams in average copiers, I fear the worst. Not something I would leave unattended all day. But a cool machine nevertheless!

Seven minutes, But I want it now! (4, Interesting)

rumplet (1034332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346814)

Actually I was sort of hoping for a device the size of a novel that opens out and has two e-ink pages, godly battery life, huge solid state memory, with no "features", just basic navigation to flip pages and change book files.

Vending machine books is not an obvious idea, but in my opinion it's not very useful either.

Re:Seven minutes, But I want it now! (1)

rumplet (1034332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346846)

Oh and don't post a link to the Sony LIBRIe. Look how cluttered that thing is with the qwerty keyboard, not to mention the retail price.

Ebook readers just aren't "there yet"

Sony Reader (1)

Aexia (517457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347008)

seems to be what you're looking for [learningcenter.sony.us] .

Re:Sony Reader (1)

thre5her (223254) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347396)

I'd pay for an e-ink monitor. With no backlight, the Sony reader is super-easy on the eyes, and its font rendering looks sexy. I could use an LCD for movies.

Put them in the schools... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346836)

The Harry Potter books should go quickly and raised money for after school activities.

Re:Put them in the schools... (1)

fanboyslayer (794752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346872)

Raise enough money to make up the $50,000 the machine costs to begin with?

Re:Put them in the schools... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347086)

I've seen some school districts spend millions on a new sports facility instead of reducing classroom size. Go figure.

Instant books? What about instant magazines? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346840)

Can you imagine the possibilities for instant magazines? In waiting rooms, on airplanes, etc. Plus, instant magazines might do better if it's anything like the Internet. *cough* pornography *cough*

Mein Kamft in Comic Sans with Bunny cover (2, Funny)

yosofun (933530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346906)

"The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes, including full-color laminated covers."

Does this mean I can get a copy of Mein Kamft, hardbound and set in Comin Sans... with a bunny rabbit cover... in seven minutes?

Re:Mein Kamft in Comic Sans with Bunny cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17346952)

come back after you learn the name of the book and the name of the font

Re:Mein Kamft in Comic Sans with Bunny cover (2, Funny)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346972)

You should exercise a little "Comin Sans" and get a browser with a god damned spell checker.

Re:Mein Kamft in Comic Sans with Bunny cover (4, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347014)

Does this mean I can get a copy of Mein Kamft, hardbound and set in Comin Sans... with a bunny rabbit cover... in seven minutes?

Why would you want a Ford owner's repair manual in a bunny rabbit cover?

Re:Mein Kamft in Comic Sans with Bunny cover (2, Funny)

wayward_bruce (988607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347068)

You can't get a copy of Mein Kamft unless you write it yourself. Same goes for "comin sans" font; you'd have to design it first.

This trick never works (3, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17346982)

A machine like this has debuted every other year or so for about the last decade - they have significantly failed to reach either their technical promises (producing crappy quality books) or their commercial goals. (You have to sell a lot of books to make back your initial investment.)
 
Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.

Re:This trick never works (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347020)

Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.

Actually it isn't. Its a solution people refuse to invest in. Imagine if Marvel and DC Comics made available all of their old comics through PoD. No more out of print comics. Imagine if books that are now out of print, were actually made available through PoD. No more out of print books.

No, PoD is definitely a solution for a very real problem. The only thing stopping it from taking off is publishers and copyright holders.

Re:This trick never works (2, Interesting)

Kiaser Wilhelm II (902309) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347138)

Silly reasoning. Stuff goes out of print because the publisher chooses to obsolete the material. They can't make money off of new stuff and charge new prices for it if people are constantly buying up the old material.

They wouldn't be able to charge a premium on the older stuff like they do now (as collecter's editions or whatever) if they did not restrict the quantity.

Publishing is a racket. I don't really see a demand for this, either.

Re:This trick never works (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347222)

Print-on-demand is a solution in search of a problem.

Actually it isn't. Its a solution people refuse to invest in.

Try reading what I wrote - POD machines have debuted to much fanfare every other year or so for over a decade. Millions of dollars have been invested in them - and all of it to date lost because either the machines made crappy (physical) quality books, or it turned out that there wasn't a demand.
 
 
Imagine if Marvel and DC Comics made available all of their old comics through PoD. No more out of print comics. Imagine if books that are now out of print, were actually made available through PoD. No more out of print books.

Books generally go out of print for a reason - because the demand for them sinks below a profitable level and/or interest in them drops to near zero. There's a reason why you can still buy (brand new) copies of Pride and Prejudice, but finding a copy of some random best seller from the 70's can be difficult.
 
 
No, PoD is definitely a solution for a very real problem. The only thing stopping it from taking off is publishers and copyright holders.

If you'd presented a description of the problem it solves - I'd say you are correct. But you didn't. (Airy handwaving about imaginary worlds isn't describing a problem.) I also note the arguement weakening note of invoking one of Slashdot's favorite bogeymen - Evil Conspiracies.

Re:This trick never works (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347386)

Books generally go out of print for a reason - because the demand for them sinks below a profitable level

With the case of PoD there is no money lost, see Lulu as a successful example (not talking about vending machine PoDs).

Try reading what I wrote - POD machines have debuted to much fanfare every other year or so for over a decade. Millions of dollars have been invested in them - and all of it to date lost because either the machines made crappy (physical) quality books, or it turned out that there wasn't a demand.

A) Those are only one type of people that need to invest B) Fair point ;)

If you'd presented a description of the problem it solves - I'd say you are correct. But you didn't. (Airy handwaving about imaginary worlds isn't describing a problem.)

Funny, I said enough for you to realise what the problem was: Books falling to such a low interest that traditional publishing means are no longer profitable. But here I'm talking about PoD in general, rather then these vending machines.

Re:This trick never works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17347484)

POD machines have debuted to much fanfare every other year or so for over a decade

But get cheaper every year. I remember when a laser printer cost that much. Now _I_ could (just about) afford one of these machines myself, just to have for printing out
interesting stuff I find on-line.

Paul Graham's "On Lisp" has been out-of-print for years. Paul graciously made it available on-line. But it's too long for me to print out on my current printer sanely...

That has to be a prototype (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347032)

Watched the video. The binder is huge, slow, and has way too many moving parts. Far too much paper handling. Looks like a prototype, too.

Worse, the price/performance is terrible. This $50,000 mechanical nightmare can only bind about 60 books per hour. Compare this IBIS automatic binder [ibis-bindery.com] , which can produce 6000 books per hour; 12000 if you get some extra options.

A more fundamental question: Perfect bound books are made by doing a binding job that isn't perfect, then cutting off the edges to make the block of paper uniform. Maybe it would be easier to develop a better way of aligning the paper and using paper that's dimensionally uniform.

Next invention: (2, Funny)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347040)

DRM paper.

Books printed in vending machines that will self destruct in one year and which will automatically shut down copy machines trying to duplicate it.

Re:Next invention: (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347056)

which would be great, as it would allow publishers to have the option of offering items at a lower cost to the consumer for the same reason that the "all you can eat" salad bar at TGI fridays costs more than a single side-salad.

Of course, this is slashdot, so the response that I can expect will be "the companies will use this as an excuse to jack up the prices - aren't you naive!" line from people who don't believe in markets.

Re:Next invention: (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17347128)

Flawed analogy. A salad is a consumable item that is eaten. A single track of music is something that does disappear upon the conclusion of listening to it.

DRM is an artificial restriction to degrade the normal freedoms one has with music. A serving of salad is limited by definition.

Re:Next invention: (1)

Fool_Errant (829472) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347454)

I believe in markets, so let me point out that I understand that it is an attempt to jack up prices. A lack of DRM means that copying is essentially free and that improvement on the basic design may be possible, and profits based on that may accrue to someone other than the "rights holder," which cuts into the rights holder's pocketbook, as it is in their best interest to be able to force others to pay the rights holder to make such improvements. Beyond that It enables one to selectively decide to force other people to pay for products they may have not needed/wanted directly in addition to that which they do. In so doing, it allows the "rights holder" to force a person to pay twice for what they previously had paid for only once, while at the same time, in combination with the licensing rules, preventing others from making improvements that would negate such needs. Additionally, due to the problem of short-term downward inflexibility of nominal prices... when switching from a DRM-free system to a DRMed one, its probably unlikely that one will decrease prices by a margin large enough to make DRM financially viable, especially once one considers the problem with DRM that any given "rights management" scheme (patents are included here...) has to be crackable to be useful. By the way, that increased effective nominal income will then become the baseline for future price increases, as profits have probably increased, so over long scales, DRM becomes ever more appealing. So yeah, DRM IS an excuse to jack up prices while at the same time crippling functionality. It's meant to force inventors to pay, users to pay, people making transfers to pay, admins to pay, non-users to pay... It's a "make once, get paid umpteen times" strategy.

In Soviet Russia... (0, Offtopic)

TheCybernator (996224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347090)

..govt print the books.

Every book ever written.... (1)

Mogster (459037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17347110)

Now if only it could tap into L-Space. Imagine access to every book ever written.

And if we could expand on the science of Invisible Writings, access to every book that *may* have yet to be wrote.

Ponder Stibbons if you're listening....

Book vending machine? (4, Funny)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347260)

Imagine this: You put your $5 in, wait an entire seven minutes for it to print, then the book gets stuck in the coil and doesn't drop down.

So how many.. (1)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347272)

LoC/sec would that be? C'mon, we need a meaningful metric here!

550 Page Limit? (4, Funny)

changyang1230 (832917) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347342)

One thing for sure, this machine can't print Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Japan (OT) (1)

EL Malloc (1042718) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347344)

Japan's vending machines serve hot drinks and alcoholic beverages.

And it'll be illegal (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17347358)

within about five years On Demand Books will be able to reproduce every volume ever printed.'

errrr... every Public Domain book that's ever been printed. And scanned. And proofread....

And the "content" industries will be beavering away buying more copyright laws to lock up content till the stars turn to iron...

Cost per Page (1)

emj (15659) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347442)

What I never get about these prin on demand things is how can they get the cost per page down. E.g. Laser printers may have a cost per page at about 0.05 cents [hp.com] , that would mean $27 for one 550 page book, that excludes the hardcover. Even if this thing 50% cheaper it's still very expensive..

But... When I was viisting South America there were lots of copy shops that printed A4 on both sides for 0.10 bolivianos * 275 page = $3.3, that's almost cheap enough. But these photocopiers were analog monster tuned and pruned, made from easily maintained parts with cheap ink.

5 cents per page or 0.05 cents per page? (2, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347488)

I think you mean 5 cents - 0.05 dollars per page? that would make 27.50 a book.

420 seconds???? (3, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347458)

7 minutes? Can you give me something to read while I'm waiting?

Seriously, for novels, first 10 pages of Chapter 1 loose or stapled, then print the whole book while I get started.

Let's see, assuming all pages are printed 2-up and cut, and assuming 2 printed pages per second, that's 4 book-pages per second of printing time. 550 pages = just under 2:18. Add time for cutting and binding and time for the glue to dry and I could see 3-4 minutes for a 550-page book. If it's a 1 page/second printer, add another 2:18.

If you can do this in full-color on glossy paper in a reasonable period of time for a reasonable price, you will be able to print international magazines anywhere, with local advertising content. Remember, people like reading actual magazines more than they like reading PDFs.

Sounds like a tool for bookstores + libraries (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 6 years ago | (#17347538)

While 5-10 minutes might be too long for a vending machine-to-individual interface, imagine if your favorite bookstore or library had a few of these. You could order a book they didn't have in stock and browse for a few minutes, and then pick it up instead of having to go elsewhere or maybe not get it at all (out of prints). That seems like the most obvious implementation.
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