Pitt Unveils Expresso Book Machine at Hillman Library

Issue Date: 
September 27, 2010

espresso-image-2An exciting and revolutionary method of printing books is now in operation at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Espresso Book Machine (EBM), which can print a library-quality paperback book with a full-color laminated cover in just minutes, will be shown to a number of Pitt dignitaries and librarians today at Pitt’s Hillman Library.

The machine, the first of its kind to be used in Pennsylvania, was purchased this summer by Pitt’s University Library System (ULS), working in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Press and the University Book Center, to print books as the titles are ordered—a less expensive process than buying a minimum run from a printing company. Pitt is one of only 30 universities worldwide to have the EBM.

The EBM’s software system, called EspressNet, connects the machine to a vast network of permissioned content, including nearly a million titles in the EspressNet database, thousands of titles in the ULS D-Scribe online collections, and books published by University of Pittsburgh Press. The EBM will print, align, mill, glue, bind and trim anything that a laser printer can print—from textbooks to lab journals. A typical book can be produced in less than seven minutes.

The first book “off the press” will be the revised paperback edition of Where the Evidence Leads (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003) by the Honorable Dick Thornburgh—former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General, member of the Pitt Board of Trustees, and of counsel to the international law firm of K&L Gates, LLP—who will be in attendance during today’s demonstration.

“The Espresso machine will give Pitt the capability to produce high-quality print books from electronic books, which could lower the cost of some textbooks and required reading materials for students,” said Rush Miller, Hillman University Librarian and ULS director. Miller added that the machine provides a way to obtain books in the Pitt Digital Library and a faster way to print books published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

“When I first heard about the Espresso Book Machine, I saw a new way to make scholarly books readily available to faculty and students across the country,” said Cynthia Miller, director of the University of Pittsburgh Press. “A bookstore-in-a-box, if you will, the EBM provides immediate access to thousands of books, including those published by the Press.”

The EBM is currently on the ground floor of Hillman Library, but eventually will be housed at the University Book Center.