Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Publish Your Book with Toronto Public Library’s EBM

Rhea Hawke emerges from EBM
In 1448 Guttenberg invented the printing press, which shifted the zeitgeist of an entire world. Up to then books were large and heavy and painstakingly hand-copied by monks—sometimes over years. Medieval illuminated manuscripts were prized like original art and read by very few. The printing press allowed stories to move from the closeted elite to the world citizen. The printing press made it worthwhile to read.

During the days of packaged content, leading storytellers were journalists writing for newspapers and magazines and authors published in traditional publishing houses. Now distribution channels matter less and anyone with an appropriate device or channel of distribution can be a storyteller. We follow individuals we trust…not “the experts” we don’t know. This includes bloggers, indie writers, and self-published authors. 

Now the Toronto Public Library has the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), a cool device that can create an entire book in five minutes. The EBM has made it worthwhile to write.   
Using the EBM computer to start the process

“It puts the tools of creation back in the hands of people who have the imagination or the creativity in the first place,” Dawn Connelly of Toronto Public Library’s Asquith Press told CBC Radio reporter Lisa Naccarato in a recent interview about the library’s new Espresso Book Machine (EBM) and Asquith Press.

The Smart Car-sized EBM dominates the centre of a tiny room tucked in the back of the Digital Innovation Hub of the Toronto Reference Library just off of Bloor and Yonge streets. Because its sides are made of Plexiglas with a good visual of the machine’s inner gears, rollers, cutters and clamps and multi-colored wires, the EBM more resembles a prototype of some industrial AI than a printing press. Indeed, that’s not so far from the truth; once green-lighted, this elegant fully automated machine with onboard computer performs the entire book-making process within a few minutes and with minimal human intervention. The EBM is really three machines in one: a Xerox high-speed copier that prints the text block; an Epson color printer creates a high resolution cover; and the robotic machinery does all the cool stuff of assembling and putting them together to produce and deliver a final perfectly bound book.

Cover of Metaverse emerges from EBM
I first saw the Espresso Book Machine in action at New York City’s BEA in 2009 and was very impressed The EBM is the fastest and most agile book-to-market distribution channel, according to Lightning Source staff, who smugly demonstrated their printing machine/computer to an excited audience. The EBM, which was named by TIME Magazine in 2007 the "Invention of the Year," is essentially an ATM for books. It automatically prints, binds, and trims perfect bound paperback books on-demand, at point of sale. I saw the thing in action and thought it was slick. So, it didn’t give me coffee; it gave me the next best thing—a printed book in four minutes! The Fiction Writer—my textbook on how to write—became one of the first titles offered by the Espresso Machine, which eventually found itself in major retail bookstores and libraries throughout North America and abroad.”

On Demand Books has a strategic alliance with
EBM binding Metaverse text and cover
Lightning Source/Ingram Book Group (the world’s largest wholesale distributor of books),
with a digital database that includes over one million titles from over 8,000 publishers, including my US and Calgary publishers. You can find several of my books in that data base (e.g., Darwin’s Paradox and The Fiction Writer). ODB and Google signed an agreement giving EBMs immediate access to over two million public domain Google Books. These books are available on the EBM via EspressNet, EBMs custom software that connects to a vast network of content, both in copyright and out. The EBM also has access to more than one million public-domain books through the Open Content Alliance and titles from other repositories.

The Toronto Public Library and Asquith Press have joined many bookstores and libraries that offer print on demand books worldwide. In Canada alone, the following have an EBM: University of Alberta, University of Waterloo Bookstore, McMaster University Bookstore, University of Toronto Bookstore, Simon Fraser University Bookstore, Edmonton Public Library, University of Victoria, McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg, Chronicles of Crime in Victoria, Oscar’s Art Books in Vancouver, Books Inn in Miramichi, and the Edmonton Public Library.

EBM trimming Metaverse
While the EBM provides an efficient book-to-market distribution channel, the Toronto Public Library is focusing on the machine’s rapid printing service for creative people and groups wishing to self-publish.

The press offers quality and affordable paperback book printing for anyone wishing to self publish; whether it’s their own work of fiction, a dissertation, group anthology, conference proceedings, family history or memoir, a cookbook, journal or collection of pictures. The list is really endless.

Unlike most printing companies, Asquith Press can produce as many or as few books as you want. As long as it is formatted perfectly, the book will come out store-quality. The press can print books of all sizes and width. Ten copies of a 150-page book would cost $145. At about $15 per book, that’s a lot less than most book printers charge. Asquith Press also offers a proofing service on your first printed copy. The library also provides access to resources that you need to learn about producing a professional looking book. This includes an information session and a book-printing demo and free workshops on the use of Microsoft Word and Photoshop.
Nina proudly holding newly printed Metaverse

Dawn invited me to participate in the June 9th  unveiling of Asquith Press and I was delighted when they agreed to print the latest book of my science fiction trilogy, Metaverse, published by Starfire.  I witnessed the Smart Car-size EBM literally create a store-quality book from two files on a jump drive.  I peered through the Plexiglas sides as the machine printed and assembled the pages, created a professional quality cover then glued the book block and bound it to the cover with a final trim to all sides. Within five minutes the completed book slid down the end chute of the machine in a peremptory clunk. I snatched the book and examined it—I  couldn’t tell the difference from what the printer for my USA publisher produced and this wonderful thing in my hands—and grinned.

This was very cool!

Learn How to Create a Professional Book Interior

I am teaching several workshops through the library on how to format the interior of your book with Microsoft Word so it can be printed on the EBM and will look professional.

To register for a class, contact the Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Reference Library or call the library at 416-393-7007. Classes are free. 

Contact: Dawn Connelly;

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.

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