PYOB: Print Your Own Books at the Brooklyn Public Library

PYOB: Print Your Own Books at the Brooklyn Public Library

Let’s say you’re tired of reading on your computer or Kindle but still have a hankering for the latest free ebook from the fabulous Project Gutenberg. You could go out and find a physical copy of The Yazoo Mystery by Irving Craddock at a used bookstore if you’re lucky, or on Amazon if you want to spend $22 plus shipping. Or you could print it out, but reading an unbound ream of paper isn’t as sexy as a real book, and it’s kind of inconvenient going uptown on the Q.

Now there’s another option. The Brooklyn Public Library’s main branch has a great new gimmick: the Espresso Book Machine. You give it a digital book, it hands back a real one. It’s not free – books run about $10-$30 – but it is extremely cool.

Just think, long out-of-print books available with the click of a button. Want a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s handwritten first version of Alice in Wonderland? No problem. Seeking your own copy of the Gutenberg Bible? It’s right here, my friend.

The best part isn’t access to out-of-print books, it’s the yet-to-be-printed book. Self-publishing produces a real book, with binding and everything. Is there a more perfect present for a burgeoning author? Just sneak into your 16-year-old daughter’s room, find a file called “diary,” and email it to the Espresso company. After surprising your loved one with that professional-looking, trade-quality paperback, you will hear about it for years to come. Guaranteed. And that title can be added to the EBM’s catalog, so that it can be purchased and printed at any of 70 EBMs worldwide. You’re welcome.

Plus, it’s neat to watch.