Sacramento authors: You can now print out your own books at the Sacramento Central Library, starting in mid-November. Check out the October 21, 2011 Sacramento Bee article by Carlos Alcalá, "Check out book – or print one.
Also see the article, Sacramento library will unveil a book printing machine. The idea is is not only can you check at books at the public library as usual, but you also can print out a book--your own, or a book listed in the library's database.
The Sacramento Central public library will start holding writing classes in branches to try to replace the recently ended UC Davis Extension Creative Writing program. The goal is to connect the writing community with the reading community. The Espresso Book Machine prints books, one at a time. Librarians in Sacramento plan an orientation session on the machine for Nov. 8. It's called the new Espresso Book Machine – the newest version west of the Mississippi.
With the new machine, the library can do two new things: Give local writers the opportunity to print their own books, whether it's a single copy or dozens. Or print out books for the public that aren't available in stores or on local library shelves. Literally millions of titles are available. Do you have your library card yet?
Sacramento Central Library is the first public library to use the updated model of the machine purchased through a grant from the California State Library. Only a few of the Espresso Book Machines exist in California, and they are older models.
The machine that prints out books works from digital files. It cost $150,000. But in five minutes or so will print your soft cover for a book. And it also prints the text pages, binds the book, trims the pages and delivers the finished product...in a few minutes.
When finished, a warm book is presented – between 40 and 830 pages thick and roughly 4 by 5 inches to 8 by 10 inches. Covers are in color, but text is only in black ink.
Now, if you have your book on a disc or other computer file, you can print out your own paperback book in a few minutes at the downtown public Sacramento library--main branch.
The library won't have the machine running for the public until mid-November, and costs to the public are still being worked out. For an original book, setup costs may be around $100, including test books.
You could also print out books already in print that are in the 3 million-book database, at a cost to you as little as $9 or $10 for a 150-page book. In connection with the original books, the library has started what it is calling the I Street Community Writing and Publishing Center.
Having written 91 paperback books in the last 45 years, the idea of not having to deal with agents and publishers when you have a book that is a niche market for a specific reading audience is great. You have all these writers in Sacramento with manuscripts saved in their computer in a format trying to sell their books from novels and children's books to instructional text books and how-to books, and most books than come over the transom of publishers are rejected based on one editor's decision of what's marketable for the publisher.
If you want to take a look at my 91 published paperback books, check out the publisher's website which lists some of the books. The point is authors no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars to a print on demand publisher to have their books published. Their only task after publication is to find a way to distribute and market their books, such as paying an online distributor such as Amazon.com or other online bookseller to list their books at a price the author can afford or sell the book only from their own website, which again, would have to be promoted.
For very low income seniors writing their memoirs or informational books, the issue is to find an audience who would read their book once it's printed out. After the book is printed out for $150 for one copy, how would the author then print out dozens or even hundreds of copies to sell at a price book purchases would pay, for example under $25 a copy or the usual $10 a copy for supermarket paperback novels?
The library needs to find out information that author's want--how to have more copies printed at an affordable price even for print-on-demand authors? Otherwise it would cost an author thousands of dollars to print out a few hundred copies of a book that may lie for decades in a home, garage, or other space with no one knowing the book is available. Would you pay $150 to print out one copy of a book that you wrote not knowing where other copies would be coming from at a price you could afford?
If you found a way to print out your book at $5 a copy each for you and sold your book for $10 a copy plus postage and packaging, that's something to think about, after you've researched your market. On the other hand, if you want a copy of a book to read that someone else wrote, you would pay around $10 to print out your one copy to keep permanently in your home.
Now that publishing, at least psychologically, has changed hands with the writer being in control of writing a book tailored to a specific audience. This is great for someone with valuable research and information or writers who focus on entertaining fiction. Publishing is now in the hands of writers.
Even if you don't write, but want to read a book not available in libraries or bookstores, if the book is in the database, you can print it out. If you're paying around $10 for a book, it would be similar to paperbacks in bookstores. But the book has to be either in the database or you have the opportunity to print out a book you've written or a manuscript that's saved in your computer as a digital file.
You'd have to check with the library to see what type of software or how you'd save your file as what to have it printed out. For example, would your manuscript saved in Microsoft Word software be printable? That question will have to be answered by the library when the machine becomes open to public use for a fee.
There are also discussions of using the machine to support 916 INK, a new program that includes publishing student authors as a key part of literacy education. See the website, 916 ink (nineonesix.ink) on about.me. 916INK is dedicated to promoting literacy by empowering youth in the Sacramento region to engage in literary arts.
According to the Sacramento Bee article, materials circulation dropped recently while library downloads and other programs are going up. But you have so many students and writers in Sacramento who want a paperback book rather than an e-book to read. After all, staring at a computer screen to read a novel is not that comfortable on your eyes. After an hour of reading, many people get eye fatigue.
The question for writers and readers is whether there will always be a demand for paperback books? If you ask most older people, they prefer the feel of the paperback, especially light weight paperback books that can be read in transit or in bed. A lot of the younger readers and also readers who are not physically able to turn the pages of books may prefer electronic readers similar to the Kindle where a touch instead of a more involved manipulation of several fingers is required to turn pages, which may be painful for some.
Some people read novels in different rooms to distract their attention from other thing such as waiting in a medical or dental office. Most people do like the feel of paperback books if they're not too heavy to handle. And others prefer electronic readers during long air trips or train trips where many books can be stored in one light weight Kindle-like device where the text can be enlarged or even audio books played with headphones.
With the Sacramento public library's new Espresso book machine, the physical machine is accompanied by a virtual warehouse of available titles, searchable at On Demand Books. To search for a book, use a keyword such as 'sewing children's clothing.' You can then come up with a book title teaching you to sew specific types of garments. Also you can do searches of titles by VDM Publishing. That company compiles Wikipedia articles as books.
Some books are out of copyright and also available such as the books of Mark Twain. Publishers such as HarperCollins and a few others, have reached agreements to make their copyrighted backlist books – not available in stores – printable through the Espresso Book Machine. You can find out which books are accessible by checking out the Sacramento Library website. The central branch is located at 8th and I Streets in downtown Sacramento.