The Book ATM: recreating America’s Corners

American public diplomacy has suffered as USIA libraries have shuttered around the world, replaced with anemic “America’s Corners” stuffed away and hidden. Perhaps this book ATM would be a valuable and useful augmenter of substantially reduced connections with foreign publics. This would also make it easier to provide alternative language versions of American and European texts at a substantially reduced cost, making Mark Twain & others more accessible, in Arab, Asian, African, and South American countries.

Imagine if State’s ACCESS Micro Scholarships, a program begun on a $34,000 shoestring budget in Morocco and since expanded to at least 43 countries and affecting more than 9000 people, had one of these at each of their locations? This is, in reality, an incremental cost increase, especially from the perspective of DoD budgets. 

From Fortune Small Business / CNN:

Buying a book could become as easy as buying a pack of gum. After several years in development, the Espresso – a $50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library – is nearly consumer-ready and will debut in ten to 25 libraries and bookstores in 2007. The New York Public Library is scheduled to receive its machine in February.

The company behind the Espresso is called On Demand Books, founded by legendary book editor Jason Epstein, 78, and Dane Neller, 56, but the technology was developed six years ago by Jeff Marsh, who is a technology advisor for New York City-based ODB (

The machine can print, align, mill, glue and bind two books simultaneously in less than seven minutes, including full-color laminated covers. It prints in any language and will even accommodate right-to-left texts by putting the spine on the right. The upper page limit is 550 pages, though by tweaking the page thickness and type size, you could get a copy of War and Peace (albeit tough to read) if you wanted.

(Hat tip