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Sacramento Public Library : Self-publishing made possible through Espresso Book Machine

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Sacramento Public Library Outreach & Community Services Supervisor Manya Shorr takes the EBM for a test run.
Starting in mid-November, people can print books from a catalog of more than 3 million titles, or even novels they’ve written themselves, in less than five minutes at the Sacramento Public Library.

The library recently acquired an Espresso Book Machine or EBM, which will be available for public use.

Printing on the machine is available through the Library’s I Street: A Community Writing & Publishing Center project, where the public can join and learn about self-publishing, according to Sacramento Public Library Outreach & Community Services Supervisor Manya Shorr.

"The UC Davis extension program for creative writing in Davis is closing, (and) that means there is no center for creative writing in the area," Shorr said. "We want to fill that void."

The Xerox brand EBM in the Sacramento Public Library cost $150,000, and the purchase was made possible through a grant given by the California State Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Only the Sacramento Public Library has an EBM in the greater Sacramento Area, Shorr said.

According to the Sacramento Public Library website, classes in self-publishing will start in late January 2012.

"We believe that we have a foot in two worlds right now: the digital world and the print world, Shorr said. “People still love books, and people have a book inside of them that they want to write and publish."

“I’ve been working on a book since I was in high school and so I’ve just been writing for years, and I have always wanted to be a writer,” Sacramento City College student Bethanie Murray, 21, said. “It just blows my mind that people can just come in and publish their books for cheap.”

Books created from the Espresso Book Machine.

At 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, the library will have an “I Street” info session on the second floor of the library.

"Libraries are bastions of free speech and of intellectual freedom, so we want to celebrate the written word," Shorr said. "We would rather not restrict anything, if possible."

Shorr said that people will use the machine mostly for personal printing, not necessarily books that are going to the library system. However, if people want to publish and sell their books, an international standard book number (ISBN) is required.

A library card is not needed to use the machine. To print a book, a flash drive is required containing two files: A full-color or black-and-white book cover in .pdf format and a black-and-white interior in .pdf format, according to Shorr. Books must be at least 40 and no more than 830 pages.

Prices for publishing a books are still tentative, Shorr said. There will be a setup fee that will pay for storing the user’s book to the library’s database indefinitely, and for layout adjustments. It will cost $6 a book plus two cents per page.

The EBM will be staffed Tuesday evenings and all day Saturdays, and appointments can be made through the Sacramento Public Library’s website.

See the Espresso Book Machine in action below:

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About the author

John Hernandez

  • We wish you much success! Our two machines in the Netherlands are being used by writers to make the first copies of their long-awaited books – it’s so exciting when that first copy rolls down the chute, warm like bread from the oven!

  • Craig Powell

    This is an outstanding service. I suspect it will become very popular among a wide variety of writers and self-publishers.

  • Ben Ilfeld

    This is awesome! We’re gonna have to find some creative uses for this!

  • Amabelle Ocampo

    Wow, this has got to be the coolest thing ever. Thanks, John for sharing this with us.

  • Laura Good

    I love it! Would be really cool to watch the machine making a book–great kid field trip!

  • Mary Nares

    Thanks, John– great article. This is some exciting news, I’m sharing it with my writers’ group.

  • Freedom of the Press! Love it.

    • But can it make coffee?

  • Roderick Bedingfield

    Great transitioning tool allows people who want to distribute printed books to have access to worldwide system of distributing.
    Also provides a copy that with minimal work can be used in addition for digital distribution.
    Choice of additional revenue or spread of ideas not a necessity to choose one or the other.

    Great opportunity for small businesses charging minimal fees to integrate authors into the world wide publishing system-much of it free and dependent on quality or perceived value.

  • Congratulations, Sacramento! Welcome to the world of on-demand-print from Riverside County Library System Flash Books. Your community will love and embrace this service!

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