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Books made to order - anyone tried this?


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:29 AM

I just found these two books about the RDB on Google - so far as I understand you order them and they make a copy specially for you - which is presumably why they are so very expensive.

Has anyone tried this sort of thing and can give some idea of what quality to expect?

You can look at some of the pages online and there are some wonderful photographs in the first one. Click on PREVIEW BOOK.

The Royal Danish Ballet in Photographs

Interviews with 10 RDB dancers

#2 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:01 AM

I just found these two books about the RDB on Google - so far as I understand you order them and they make a copy specially for you - which is presumably why they are so very expensive.

Has anyone tried this sort of thing and can give some idea of what quality to expect?

You can look at some of the pages online and there are some wonderful photographs in the first one. Click on PREVIEW BOOK.

The Royal Danish Ballet in Photographs

Interviews with 10 RDB dancers


Jane - I haven't tried a print-on-demand book myself, but you might find this article from Publisher's Weekly informative:

[font="Arial"][size="2"]Amazon: Shoddy-On-Demand[/size][/font]

The article's author was shocked by the poor quality of the photos in the on-demand book he purchased through Amazon and ended up buying a used hardback as a supplement. (He apparently didn't realize he was getting an on-demand book when he ordered it and paid the equivalent of a fully-priced trade paperback. Amazon did offer him a refund when he complained.) Not that the RDB books you've found on Google will have the same quality problems -- but it's something to be aware of, especially since the photographs are of interest to you.

#3 Jane Simpson

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:40 AM

A friend has bravely ordered both books so we shall see...

#4 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:43 AM

A friend has bravely ordered both books so we shall see...


Please report back! I would love to see books-on-demand turn into a real option.

#5 bart

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 09:52 AM

I'm interested in anything that aims at the survival of the printed book. :) After clicking your link, Jane, I noticed the letters "PBN" at the top of the page. I clicked, and found this:

http://photographybooknow.blurb.com/

Sounds legit and -- more than that -- serious about photography. Just check out the quality and experience of the judges. This doesn't seem to be one of those low-budget self-publishing ventures.

When your friends books arrive, please report on them.

P.S. I recently ordered a used book on the work of the painter Edward Hopper, published by Crown in the U.S. (1989) but printed in Italy and copyrighted in Switzerland. The quality of the color reproductions was absymal, bearing no relationship to the originals. Made-to-order books by high level people can't help but be better.

#6 sandik

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:37 AM

I haven't used this service through mail-order, but I did want to raise my hand for my local 'print to order' outlet. The University Book Store in Seattle has an Espresso book machine (no, not the coffee kind, though they do that too!) -- it prints softcover books from electronic media. The final product is close to a trade paperback in quality (not quite as nice, but better than the standard paperback). I haven't really investigated any dance offerings, but I was able to find a text through Googlebooks of a novel I read in high school, and have never been able to find again. They had several different versions of the file available, and you could look at sample pages to check things like font size and image clarity. I get the impression that these are digitized copies of existing books (rather than plain text files) -- you would have to watch out for bad copies, but honestly, it was astonishing to see the machine print and bind a book I thought I'd never have the chance to read again.

You can watch one here -- I know it sounds kind of geeky, but I'm a book girl.

#7 Helene

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:46 AM

Thank you for the link to the video, sandik! My favorite TV show as a kid was "Hot Dog".

For places with large populations, this is much more eco-friendly than guessing print runs, producing and shipping books to various stores, having the stores ship them back for returns, etc. Plus it doesn't preclude shipping from the production point to individuals. Depending on the cost structure, this could be a option for independent book stores, who could get copies sooner than aggregating and waiting for an order from a book distributor.

Until the cost of storage and bandwidth becomes prohibitively expense due to the amount of energy it takes to cool those server farms, electronic files are the best way to keep the maximum amount available for print, and "in-print" becomes more of an issue for collectors.

#8 bart

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:01 AM

Thanks for the video, sandix. The shot of the contraption that produces these books (at the start of the film) reminded me of the early in-house publishing ventures started by many American corporations. The first equipment was Rube-Goldberesque, cobbled together from various components to produce large reports, manuals,promotional material, and the like. You needed hard copy to begin with, but the machinery 'xeroxed," collated, and bound (spiral binding). One could also do layouts for catalogs, etc., with similar looking machinery. (With those, since they were often in color, you had to go to a real printer.)

All of this was analogous to a medieval monastery having its own scriptorium. Keeping the process in-house was thought to be cost-effective. Very quickly, however, better machinery came along. It was quite expensive, so the work returned to outside suppliers who had the volume to afford the investment.

I expect that the technology in this video clip is already being surpassed.

Oddly enough, this week's Economist has a full-page ad for Xerox. (They still exist !!!) It caught my eye because it reminded me of those old days. "We focus on translating and delivery Ducati's global publications. So they don't have to." Shows a helmeted delivery guy on a Ducati motercycle, loading up with bright red printed manuals. The setting is a small room that looks an awful like those old "xerox rooms" of the past.

Plus ca change
.... etc.

P.S. For our young members who may not have heard of "Rube Goldberg," here's an example of his work:
http://hhe.wikispace...be-goldberg.jpg

#9 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:40 AM

I haven't used this service through mail-order, but I did want to raise my hand for my local 'print to order' outlet. The University Book Store in Seattle has an Espresso book machine (no, not the coffee kind, though they do that too!) -- it prints softcover books from electronic media. The final product is close to a trade paperback in quality (not quite as nice, but better than the standard paperback). I haven't really investigated any dance offerings, but I was able to find a text through Googlebooks of a novel I read in high school, and have never been able to find again. They had several different versions of the file available, and you could look at sample pages to check things like font size and image clarity. I get the impression that these are digitized copies of existing books (rather than plain text files) -- you would have to watch out for bad copies, but honestly, it was astonishing to see the machine print and bind a book I thought I'd never have the chance to read again.

You can watch one here -- I know it sounds kind of geeky, but I'm a book girl.


Nerd that I am, I loved that video -- although somehow I was expecting more moving parts ...

McNally Jackson Books in Soho has an EBM, too, which you can use to print your own books or one of the titles in their print-on-demand library.

I was enchanted by this note on their website:

Once you find the book(s) you're looking for, you can order through this website, email bookmachine@mcnallyjackson.com, call the store directly at (212)-274-1160, or come on in and see the machine in action. If you're hoping to come in and watch your order be printed (which is still no small thrill, even for us) you may want to check to see how busy we and the machine are on a given day. [emphasis mine]


I have to confess that I've pretty much gone digital for plain-text books and publications that aren't graphics heavy. (I even started reading "Pride and Prejudice" on my smartphone when I was trapped in a waiting room without my Kindle and three people fighting over the one very dogeared back issue of People lying around ... It is a truth universally acknowledged that a former English major in possession of a good chunk of downtime must be in want of something to read ...) But some books either demand to be read on paper or can only be read on paper (i.e., no eBook yet if ever) -- and if it's out of print, perhaps EBMs will come to the rescue.

#10 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for the video, sandix. The shot of the contraption that produces these books (at the start of the film) reminded me of the early in-house publishing ventures started by many American corporations. The first equipment was Rube-Goldberesque, cobbled together from various components to produce large reports, manuals,promotional material, and the like. You needed hard copy to begin with, but the machinery 'xeroxed," collated, and bound (spiral binding). One could also do layouts for catalogs, etc., with similar looking machinery. (With those, since they were often in color, you had to go to a real printer.)

All of this was analogous to a medieval monastery having its own scriptorium. Keeping the process in-house was thought to be cost-effective. Very quickly, however, better machinery came along. It was quite expensive, so the work returned to outside suppliers who had the volume to afford the investment.

I expect that the technology in this video clip is already being surpassed.

Oddly enough, this week's Economist has a full-page ad for Xerox. (They still exist !!!) It caught my eye because it reminded me of those old days. "We focus on translating and delivery Ducati's global publications. So they don't have to." Shows a helmeted delivery guy on a Ducati motercycle, loading up with bright red printed manuals. The setting is a small room that looks an awful like those old "xerox rooms" of the past.

Plus ca change
.... etc.

P.S. For our young members who may not have heard of "Rube Goldberg," here's an example of his work:
http://hhe.wikispace...be-goldberg.jpg


Not to mention the Mousetrap game! I loved it. When one of my uncles told me the end result was a real "Rube Goldberg contraption," I assumed he meant it as a compliment!

#11 sandik

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 07:23 PM

P.S. For our young members who may not have heard of "Rube Goldberg," here's an example of his work:
http://hhe.wikispace...be-goldberg.jpg


Not to mention the Mousetrap game! I loved it. When one of my uncles told me the end result was a real "Rube Goldberg contraption," I assumed he meant it as a compliment!


Oh, I love Rube Goldberg, and Mousetrap!

The machine at my local bookstore is a newer version than the one in the video, and it is indeed slightly less bulky. I first saw it in use not long after they received it, and so it wasn't in use all the time. It takes a while to warm up (like those old xerox machines!), and so they were kind enough to call me when they knew "my" book was coming up in the print queue. I rushed over so I could watch -- I am really a geek.

#12 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 06:07 AM


P.S. For our young members who may not have heard of "Rube Goldberg," here's an example of his work:
http://hhe.wikispace...be-goldberg.jpg


Not to mention the Mousetrap game! I loved it. When one of my uncles told me the end result was a real "Rube Goldberg contraption," I assumed he meant it as a compliment!


Oh, I love Rube Goldberg, and Mousetrap!

The machine at my local bookstore is a newer version than the one in the video, and it is indeed slightly less bulky. I first saw it in use not long after they received it, and so it wasn't in use all the time. It takes a while to warm up (like those old xerox machines!), and so they were kind enough to call me when they knew "my" book was coming up in the print queue. I rushed over so I could watch -- I am really a geek.


The EBM at MacNally Jackson seems hardly larger than one of the more elaborate corporate photocopiers. It has been given a place of honor by a big window right at the front of the store and next to the cafe.

#13 sandik

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 11:39 AM

The EBM at MacNally Jackson seems hardly larger than one of the more elaborate corporate photocopiers. It has been given a place of honor by a big window right at the front of the store and next to the cafe.


So you could have a coffee and watch your book being printed -- perfect!

#14 Jane Simpson

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 08:01 AM

The friend who ordered the two RDB books showed them to me yesterday and they look really good - the quality of the photographs is excellent and they seem to be printed on good paper. If you take the dust-jacket option the actual binding is perfectly plain and simple - my only question would be about how strong it is, and the photographs book is really quite heavy - but that's just a general question, I saw nothing (in a fairly quick look) to me me think it wouldn't last.

The photographs book is now definitely on my Christmas wish list - it's particularly nice for me as the year it covers is the first one I saw quite a lot of so I remember all the dancers and a good proportion of the ballets. The interviews book also has lots of smaller photos, some of them I think duplicated from the other book, but if you don't read Danish the all-pictures one might be a better choice.

I still haven't really worked out if they really print them off for each order, though.

The books were sent from the US to Denmark and arrived in 8 or 9 days.


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