Simple print on demand for Google Books and Internet Archive
January 10, 2008 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Public Domain Books Reprints Service is "an experimental non-commercial project to re-print public domain books". It's the first service I have seen that allows simple affordable one-off point and click facsimile paperback replication of any book at Google Books or Internet Archive (millions of books). Curious how it works? Each book includes the technical details (Perl+Ghostscript+DJVU+XLST+etc..). The "experiment" has been running since November and is created by Yakov Shafranovich, a Russian Jewish immigrant in Baltimore of many talents.
posted by stbalbach (17 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
"Non-commercial" is probably not accurate as he charges anywhere from $0.01 to $0.99 per book for the conversion process, which is then imported to LuLu where it can be previewed, ordered and shipped at base LuLu pricing. Having ordered one myself, the covers are generic and pictures don't come out at all, but otherwise text is fine - it's an easy and cheap way to bridge the divide between the huge world of electronic books now freely online and paper copies for reading.
posted by stbalbach at 7:20 AM on January 10, 2008

More proof that e-books are not the preferred language of the masses.

Honestly though this is a fantastic idea. I do, however, find that the pictures not coming out is a bit of a disappointment as the original illustrations of some of these books are fantastic to say the least...
posted by bookwo3107 at 7:25 AM on January 10, 2008

Regarding pictures.. I agree. Since it is an "experiment" and Yakov is basically making no money from it, I have not complained - if it ever went "commercial" he would have to fix the picture problem.
posted by stbalbach at 7:35 AM on January 10, 2008

This is a really cool idea.
posted by drezdn at 7:37 AM on January 10, 2008

On the contrary, a lot of people are very excited about e-books. It's e-book readers everyone hates.
posted by DU at 7:41 AM on January 10, 2008

This is very cool. Thanks, stbalbach!
posted by TedW at 7:42 AM on January 10, 2008

thanks for this, stbalbach. what a cool and innovative use for on-demand publishing! rock. on.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:42 AM on January 10, 2008


Also, consider "In Soviet Russia Baltimore..." hereby cockblocked, suckas.
posted by cortex at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this, Stbalbach. I have put in a request for an out-of-print book from an early missionary to the northwest. I will post back here and review it on my blog when I get it.

Of course I could just download the whole thing to my hard drive and be able to search it by keyword...
posted by LarryC at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2008

More proof that e-books are not the preferred language of the masses.

No, not really. The only thing that's holding ebooks back is the lack of a decent reader. Kindle comes close (and doesn't have quite the number of issues that some people thought when it was first announced), and I think now that we have a version one from Amazon we may actually see more entries into the market and some serious competition and market building.
posted by Zinger at 9:19 AM on January 10, 2008

Anyone know where can I find a set of good photos of the finished product, including text and images, and etc.?
posted by washburn at 10:01 AM on January 10, 2008

Side note: why is googlebooks so bad at handling multi-volume editions? It's really frustrating sometimes.
posted by washburn at 10:10 AM on January 10, 2008

From the site's FAQ:

Aren't you violating Google Book Search terms of "no automatic querying"?

We do not think so. Our site does not search Google's site in anyway and any request for book information is placed directly in response to a user request. This is very similar to the way Google's own Feedfetcher works as explained in this Google FAQ entry. All searches must be done by users directly at Google's site.

Good luck with that. I would not be surprised to see Google's Silver Hammer coming down on this sometime soon. I can't figure out why Google themselves has not offered this kind of service, but maybe they think it's too small potatoes to both with, or maybe their agreements with the libraries precludes it.

In any event, thanks for the link. The pricing is surprisingly reasonable.
posted by beagle at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2008

Update I heard from Yakov via email who found out about this post and he said books can be printed so pictures turn out OK (example), but he needs to know after the order has been placed in order to do a different form of processing. It wil do it automatically if the books metadata has some sort of information that it contains pictures, but don't count on metadata being complete.
posted by stbalbach at 3:26 PM on January 10, 2008

Side note: why is googlebooks so bad at handling multi-volume editions? It's really frustrating sometimes.

I'm not sure if it's Google or the scanners that are at issue. I'm currently reading a bad Victorian triple-decker that was uploaded as a single volume, but I've also had to chase after triple-deckers uploaded as three different books.

Given the wildly uneven quality of GoogleBooks scans--the aforementioned bad Victorian triple-decker has blurred pages, pages where a dogear interfered with the scan, several missing pages, and, of course, the omnipresent fingers--I'd rather not spend the $ to print them out. Internet Archive books seem to be of much better quality.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:55 PM on January 10, 2008

OK, I just ordered this book for $18.29 shipped. I will post a review when it arrives.
posted by LarryC at 9:12 PM on January 10, 2008

Thanks, LarryC; I look forward to checking your review. (I notice that there are a few pictures on Flickr of Lulu-made books, however none on these ones in particular).

tj wise: I agree that GoogleBooks scans are often quite iffy; also though, I have a possibly paranoid sense the powers behind GB are at least vaguely anti-book in some way. Just like iTunes tends to dissolve albums by encouraging buyers to listen to music as collection of tracks, Googlebooks tends to encourage people to turn to the One Great Googlebook, rather than to regard their service as providing access to a collection of discrete texts. Bibliographic info is usually hidden somewhere, muti-volume sets are never recognized as such, and now (this is a new development, I think), clicking on a book found through Google now takes one directly to the book's table of contents, rather than to a title-page. It's all a bit post-booky for my taste.
posted by washburn at 11:40 AM on January 12, 2008

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