Google Lets You Custom-Print Millions of Public Domain Books

Wired's <A href="">Epicenter blog</A> details the latest venture to come out of Mountain View CA, public domain books printed on demand. "What’s hot off the presses come Thursday? Any one of the more than 2 million books old enough to fall out of copyright into the public domain. And now Google Book Search, in partnership with On Demand Books, is letting readers turn those digital copies back into paper copies, individually printed by bookstores around the world."


it's always best to do something questionable and ask for forgiveness later than it is to get the right permissions first.

they cut deals with libraries who didn't have the authority to grant permission for the scans because it works out for them.

now they have the books scanned and they'll make lots of money from them.

who else could have gotten away with this? microsoft?? yeah, right.

>it's always best to do something questionable and ask for forgiveness later

They are not doing anything questionable. Books in the Public Domain can be printed and sold by anyone.

They're going to make millions from print-outs of public domain books? So in order of hot commodities it's New Moon, Dan Brown and Feed Lot Management from 1915?

Shhh, I hear Google controls the banks and the media too.

For years we could buy out of print books only if we could afford the original items, or hope to find a commercial re-print. Now we can get copies of items that would have a limited market on demand and pay for the service. It seems to fit. Google has given its power to us. We do not have to buy anything.


Isn't this a perfect example of Chris Anderson's LONGEST TAIL phenomenon?

No single out-of-print volume will become a mega-seller or even a moderate hit, but innumerable afficianados with rare interests will be able to obtain copies of individual OOP books for very low cost.

Just to let you guys know, the machine that prints these books has a retail price near $100,000.

I don't think this will be a commonly-used resource for many years.

From the website of OnDemandBooks:

What does the EBM cost?
USD $75,000 plus the cost of the text printer (they range in cost between $4,108 for the mid-speed black-and-white printer to $25,939 for the high-speed color printer). The full-color cover printer is included in the $75,000. Training, installation, and delivery are charged at cost.

To do books in black and white with color covers is $80,000.

Whats the unit cost of actually printing the book though? Not the overal cost, the physical cost of the paper etc.
Can't be that much!

I can easily see companies like Kinko's stepping in to purchase machines like this if the demand turns out to be there. And I can see libraries purchasing from Google and printing through Kinkos to replace worn copies of OOP favorites. I don't like Google (much like I don't like Apple and Microsoft), but I saw this coming a looooong time ago. Didn't everyone else?

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