Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: 08-31-2015

This FAQ pertains to the University of Michigan Library’s new version of the EBM, sold and serviced by On Demand Books’ distribution partner, Xerox Corp.


Operation & Management

Q: Why do you have an EBM?
Having an Espresso Book Machine helps our users connect with content in the ways most useful to them. We are committed to providing free online access to as much of the Library’s content as is legally possible, both through our own scanning initiatives and large-scale digitization efforts such as the Google library project. Most of our digital content also resides in its original print form in our stacks, for normal check-out or interlibrary loan. But sometimes, the format that’s most desired or helpful is a printed copy that one can own outright. The EBM helps us maximize the reprint potential inherent in the thousands of digital files residing in our repository, in a quick and cost-effective way.

Q: What happened to your old machine? Why did you get a new one?
The new version replaces our previous beta version machine. We were limited to the quantity and quality of books we could produce on the version 1.5 machine, and were one of very few EBM locations still using the old version of the technology. By upgrading to the latest version, featuring the Xerox 4112 printer, we are able to print books much faster, with higher quality, higher page counts, local support, and less mechanical and printing issues. These advantages will allow us to expand the range of services offered and increase our production capabilities.

Q: Do you have a maintenance contract for the machine? Who makes repairs?
Xerox maintains and services both the 4112 book block printer and the EBM binder portion itself. Local Xerox service technicians can generally be on site within 2 – 4 hours.

Q: What problems have you encountered with the machine?
So far the only machine issues were a problem with the book block text printing at a slight skew, and a blown fuse, both of which the service technician corrected.

Q: Can people come by to see the machine in operation?
 Demonstrations are by appointment only. Please contact if you wish to schedule a demo.

Q: Who actually manages the machine or is responsible for it?
The Library itself owns the machine, and staff from Michigan Publishing are responsible for various aspects of running the EBM and making policy decisions.

Q: How long have you had the machine?
We purchased the beta 1.5 version in June of 2008. At the end of December 2011, we upgraded to the version 2 machine serviced and sold by Xerox.

Pricing & Ordering


Q: How long does it take to fill an order?
 We ask that customers allow 2-3 business days for fulfillment. The actual delivery time depends upon many factors, including the quantity of books printed and number of requests already in the queue.

Q: Where do I go to see all the titles available for printing?
There is no single comprehensive catalog of all titles that can be printed. See the Search for books link in the navigation menu for links to various EBM catalogs and file sources.

Q: If I want to buy a book, how does the order and payment process work?
 Please see the Search for Books section for ways to locate and request books.  When your book is ready, you’ll be notified by email. You can then stop by the circulation desk at the Shapiro library and pay the desk staff. They accept credit or debit cards, and are available to take payment during normal building hours. They will then retrieve the book for you.

Q: What do you charge for books, and how did you determine your pricing?
Charges are based on page count:

100 pages or less - $8.00
101 – 300 pages - $12.00
301 – 500 pages - $16.00
501 – 700 pages - $20.00
701 – 800 pages - $25.00

The cost per book is based on direct operational expenses—-paper, toner, and other miscellaneous consumables, related salary, vendor expense, equipment costs and maintenance coverage.

Q: Can anyone buy books from the machine, or can it only be used by those affiliated with the University of Michigan?
You do not need to be affiliated with the University of Michigan in order to purchase books from the machine. However, we are not currently shipping the books, so you need to be able to pick them up in person. For non-local customers, many of our public domain titles can be purchased on through the Library's separate Print on Demand (POD) service.

Printing & Content


Q: Who are your main customers? Mostly students or faculty?
The majority of our customers are members of the University of Michigan community, but we also complete orders for local residents.

Q: What types of books do people buy? What’s your most popular title?
Religion, science, exploration, and math are probably some of the most requested categories, although the subject matter of books that have sold on the EBM varies widely. That’s the beauty of print on demand, especially with an EBM—there’s no need to carry inventory, or try to forecast trends, or limit what’s offered. Thousands of already digitized titles are simply at the ready, if and when a customer comes along who wants a print copy.

Q: Can you print any kind of book, from any source?
There are several requirements for printing an item on the EBM: it must already be digitized, we must have legal access to the digital file, and we must either have a clear agreement with the rights holder to print copyright-protected works, or the content must be in the public domain. Physical constraints are that the file must be between 40 and 800 pages in length, with a final trim size greater than 4.5” x 4.5” but not more than 8.25” x 10.5”. The machine produces a softcover (perfectbound) book. It can print 4-color covers, but black and white interiors only.

Q: Can I print books that are available under a Creative Commons license?
Yes. The EBM can be used to print works that are made available under a Creative Commons (CC) license. Any of the 6 main licenses or the CC Zero Waiver are acceptable. All we ask is proof that the work is available under a specific CC license. This can normally be done via a URL where the author/publisher has made the choice clear or the work itself has the notice in its contents. We believe that printing CC-NC licensed books on the EBM abides by the “non-commercial” restriction since our book fees attempt to recover costs without seeking a profit.

Q: Can I print books that are available under a license that permits reuse?
Most likely, yes. In the majority of cases, if a book is available under some license that makes it explicit that republishing, copying, retransmitting, and/or printing is permitted, then that book can be printed on the EBM. The EBM staff will review the license (in consultation with the Copyright Office) to determine if it allows us to print the work for you. When submitting the work to be printed, please provide proof that the work is available under the license and a URL to the full text of the license.

Q: Are you printing Google books?
Yes, we are printing public domain books from several sources. This includes books from the Google digitization project, as well as items from our own digitization efforts such as the Making of America collection and from the Internet Archive’s Open Content Alliance. Google-scanned titles are also available via the machine’s networked “catalog of catalogs”, EspressNet.

Q: Will you be selling in-copyright titles from the EspressNet catalog?
We are considering the implications of selling the in-copyright titles in EspressNet. For now, we are limiting sales to the public domain items available in the networked catalog.

Q: Have you partnered with the local or university bookstores in any way?
We have not had any discussions with either the university bookstores or local bookstores, although we’re open to exploring ways the machine might prove mutually beneficial.

Q: If I wrote a book, or have other digital files I’d like printed, can you print those on the EBM for me?
We no longer offer self-publishing services.

Q: Can the EBM be used to print course packs? What’s the relationship between the EBM and Reserves?
We cannot use the EBM to reproduce in-copyright materials without the explicit permission of the rights holder. If instructors have public domain materials or materials to which they own the rights and that they would like printed in book form, this is possible, within the usual constraints of the machine. If an instructor is putting a public domain book on reserve, we may be able to offer the alternative of a low-cost print copy for students.

For Faculty


Q: I’ve assigned an out-of-copyright work as part of my course reading list. How do I make EBM copies available for my students?
Send an email to listing the title, author, publication date, and a link to the online version of the edition you’d like to use, as well as the expected quantity you'll need, and the timeline. We'll then get back to you with specifics about the process.

Q: I own the rights to a work that I want to use as course material in an upcoming semester. What do you need from me in order to make EBM copies available?
Send an email to with details about quantity needed, timeline, and what format the material is in currently. We'll then get back to you with specifics about the process.

Q: How do I customize a public domain work to add my lecture notes, syllabus, or other material?
Your material will need to be formatted to match the trim size of the PDF of the public domain title. For instance, if the book's trim size is 6.5 x 9.5, and your notes, syllabus, or other materials are sized at 8.5 x 11, you'll need to reformat the page size and margins of your content to 6.5 x 9.5. Contact with information about the title you wish to use (include a link to the online version or the catalog record for the item, if possible), quantity needed, and timeline, and we will get back to you with specifics about the process.

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Last modified: 11/23/2015