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Books now printed on-demand at UAF

Alaska Dispatch

At the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a device changing the way books are distributed is busy printing out paperbacks on demand, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports.

UAF’s College of Rural and Community Development purchased an Espresso Book Machine (EBM) last April to the tune of $100,000, and kept it under a low-profile while employees learned to use the device. Now, folks can pick from 3.3 million titles and see them printed out right before their eyes, typically for around $10 to $20. The machine spits out 100 pages per minute and binds the book, complete with cover, in a maximum of five minutes.

While such machines are common on Lower 48 campuses, it’s the first device of its kind in Alaska. The machine has created over 1,250 publications since it came online, including books that are out-of-print.

Kevin Lawson, the bookstore’s EMB communications manager, told the News-Miner the machine is also helping to preserve Alaska Native books; The EBM created 100 copies of “Yup’ik Eskimo Orthography,” a book from the Dillingham area that has only two copies left in print beforehand.

Lawson told the News-Miner that although the market for e-books continues to grow, national surveys indicate that paper books are still widely valued by readers of all ages.

“We’re actually seeing that e-books aren’t nearly as popular as people think,” Lawson said to the News-Miner. “I think almost everyone still prefers a hard-bound book, to be honest.”

Read more at the News-Miner.