In higher education, printing presses have typically been reserved for only the privileged: Cambridge, Harvard, a handful of others. Now, thanks to the Espresso Book Machine, TU professors, students and community members alike can benefit from the cost and time savings of a printing press located smack dab in the middle of the University Store.
TU is the first university in the state to own the unique machine, which prints bound bookstore-quality books quickly and at a low cost. Customers can self-publish their own books, print out-of-print titles, or print bound course packets, all right on campus. Thus it’s no surprise Store Director Stacy Elofir has been vying for the machine for years.
“Book stores are changing, and customers expect access to a wide variety of titles quickly and at competitive prices,” Stacy said. “This machine gives us access to a variety of books without physically having them on the shelves. The Towson University Press undergoes better quality control, is more cost effective and enables textbook money to stay on campus.”
The process is simple and guided by Custom Publishing Coordinator Jeremy Ottley. Customers provide a PDF to Jeremy, who reviews the print measurements to align the cover for layout. Then, with a few clicks of the mouse, the machine is sent to the press where the inside pages and cover are printed simultaneously, bound together by glue, and pressed together while the glue sets. Minutes later, the machine delivers a paperback into Jeremy’s waiting hands for final inspection and delivery. The process is quick—and cost efficient. Customers pay a $35 set-up fee, then a small cost (10 cents or less) per page. Course packets are printed for the cost of materials and copyright fees; out of print books are printed at market value.
To date the press has produced nearly 50 books, the very first of which came via Cataloging Librarian and Copyright Liaison Rick Davis. A student approached Rick in need of a rare 18th century book for an English class. Rick discovered that the book is not available online, and because of its scarcity is not lent out by other universities. Luckily, the owner of the book collection—which would have cost the university tens of thousands of dollars to purchase in hard copy—had made the book available for Espresso Book Machines. In less than 24 hours and at a cost of $25, Rick was able to put this rare find on Cook Library’s shelves.
Other books—both personal and professional—have been printed by students, faculty and community members. With the machine, anyone who can type can print. Stacy and Jeremy are gathering writing, editing and graphic design resources for the campus community to empower potential authors to create and publish works. Their vision is a campus-wide effort to bring creativity to life—all made possible by one unique machine.
Written by Lindsey Morgan