Get books printed on-demand

Getting a printed copy of a book available in Western Libraries’ electronic collection may be as easy as the click of a button.

Western Libraries is offering e-book print-on-demand service for select titles, in collaboration with Graphic Services. This puts electronic books that are no longer under copyright into the hands of readers for a minimal fee.

“We really are moving towards an electronic world, an electronic collection,” says Harriet Rykse, digital information resources librarian. “There are mixed reactions to e-books. Overall, the reaction is pretty positive, but we were also hearing from people who had a preference for print.

“It would be nice to give the user an option if they are interested in having print, to be actually able to purchase a print copy,” she explains.

There are about 90,000 titles in the Western Libraries catalogue available for print-on-demand. They are all part of the Internet Archive collection.

The explosion of e-books has made such a service possible, she notes. The service was launched in early July. If it proves popular, Western Libraries may explore negotiating with publishers to offer copyrighted materials printed on-demand, Rykse says.

Those with access to Western Libraries can search the Shared Library Catalogue and if the book is available for print-on-demand, a ‘purchase a print copy’ button will appear on the catalogue listing.

By requesting a print copy, you will receive an 8.5X11 page size, spiral-bound book delivered within three days of the request. The book can be picked up at the Bookstore at Western, or delivered to an on-campus or off-campus address. Purchases can be made using a credit card, account or speed code.

This service allows library users to get a personal copy of books typically not found in the average bookstore. For example, if a person requested a copy of Novels and Letters of Jane Austen, a 334-page book, it would cost $19.89. There is a 30-page minimum for print requests.

“The libraries are service-oriented. If we can offer something else that potentially may be useful to our users, why not offer that?” Rykse says. “It is not really a cost for us and it’s a service some users may find useful. It fits with our mandate and makes access available as many different ways we can for the materials we have.”

The service will likely appeal to faculty, graduate students, and students interested in referencing e-resource materials who want to make annotations or prefer a print copy.

Western is not alone in exploring on-demand book printing.

University bookstores such as at Victoria, Waterloo, McMaster and Alberta offer on-demand book printing using an ‘Expresso Book Machine.’ It is a print-on-demand machine that prints and binds a book in minutes. McGill University’s library also offers the service. Some offer both copyright and public domain books.

However, these machines have some limitations and pose challenges with copyright issues and publishers, Rykse notes. After exploring this option, Rykse says having Graphic Services on site made it the most convenient and cost-efficient option.

“I’m hoping there will be some options for moving it forward,” she says.

It is more economically feasible to use the print-on-demand service than using a home printer, explains Hosham Alimorad, information systems manager, Western Retail Services (of which Graphic Services is a division).

“It’s another option to add value to the customer,” Alimorad says. “I see it as an opportunity to go further. We want to stay on top of trends and services.”

Stephen Cribar, associate director of sales and communications, Western Retail Services, expects to see some pick-up on the print-on-demand service as the school year unfolds and research projects get underway.

“It’s an option for students. It gives us an idea of where and how we can be put on the digital landscape,” Cribar says. “We hope it is the start of something bigger with the partnership with the library.”