The 'Mr. Coffee' of Bookmaking
Victor Celorio, inventor of the InstaBook, agrees that publishers have, up to this point, been resistant. “The publishing industry has been afraid of losing control of their content. This is why they have been very slow in adapting their books to the new form of distribution our technology offers them,” he says. “Bookstores will not adopt the technology until publishers do, so it is a little bit like the chicken-and-the-egg conundrum.”
Celorio says he sees installation in bookstores as a long-term goal, but, like Neller, has so far seen success with small publishing houses, colleges, universities and libraries. He has also sold systems in countries where a lack of infrastructure makes book production very expensive and complicated. The InstaBook Maker III currently retails for $17,500.
As it turns out, the timing could not be better for book-at-a-time to be introduced in libraries, just when these institutions are grappling with the implications of the Google Book Search settlement. “Because of the Google settlement, I think libraries will begin to try to find a way to generate revenue,” Neller says. “You have something like 15,000 public libraries in America, all with very good real estate. They all sit right in the town center where everybody goes. Why shouldn’t they start thinking of themselves not just as a place to warehouse books? Why not offer them for sale?”
Google is compiling a database of millions of scanned books, and the recently-announced settlement with publishing industry groups includes free public-access terminals in libraries around the country. A provision will allow for these books to be printed on a pay-as-you-go basis—a perfect opportunity for patrons to buy high-quality bound versions of books on the spot.
“The focus of the [Google] project is simply to make that database available for people to see, not necessarily for print, but if you can find a way to make those files printable, it opens up a huge market, and you simply have to have the ability to fulfill it,” Conley says.