Author Prints New Book On Demand

The Bookstore Express
Jonathan P. Levine

Writer Steve Almond reads from his new collection, This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey, at the Harvard Bookstore yesterday. The book is being printed on demand on the store's espresso book machine. Because the book has multiple covers and it is being printed on demand, Almond takes a show of hands from audience members to see how many book with each cover to print.

Sarah Palin jokes and witticisms abounded at the international debut of Steve Almond’s “This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey” as the local author gave a reading of his new, self-published book at the Harvard Book Store to an audience of over 50 people.

The book comprises 30 300-500 word “short short” stories and 30 brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing. It was offered with three different covers to be printed using the Harvard Book Store’s 2-month-old “Paige M. Gutenborg,” an Espresso Book Machine that prints books on demand.

The machine, which can print a fully-bound book in five to ten minutes, allows authors to produce their work independently and according to Almond, has the potential to give authors total control over the content of a book. It also allows artist to artist interaction in the cover design process.

For Almond, the book launch marked a significant departure from the traditional top-down method of printing using big-name publishers. Almond described this alternative process as “conducive to allowing a book to become an artifact that commemorates the communal experience, rather than a commodity.”

Bronwen Blaney, one of the Harvard Book Store’s managers, said that the machine also allows book vendors to get books that are old or in low supply to customers quickly and at prices as low as $8, depending on publishers’ demands and whether or not it is in the public domain.

Attendees at the debut of “This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey” had the option of having their own, hot-off-the-press copy of the book printed as they were treated to a reading of several excerpts from Almond’s self-published work. The subjects of the readings ranged from serious topics like Hitler’s demise to more humorous but instructive stories concerning unfriendly cashiers and the Red Sox.

After Almond’s well-received reading, several customers queued up to print copies of their book and get them signed by the author, whose joked that his goal for his evening was “to outsell Sarah Palin.”

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at dasiedu@fas.harvard.edu.

Sarah Palin jokes and witticisms abounded at the international debut of Steve Almond’s “This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey” as the local author gave a reading of his new, self-published book at the Harvard Book Store to an audience of over 50 people.

The book comprises 30 300-500 word “short short” stories and 30 brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing. It was offered with three different covers to be printed using the Harvard Book Store’s 2-month-old “Paige M. Gutenborg,” an Espresso Book Machine that prints books on demand.

The machine, which can print a fully-bound book in five to ten minutes, allows authors to produce their work independently and according to Almond, has the potential to give authors total control over the content of a book. It also allows artist to artist interaction in the cover design process.

For Almond, the book launch marked a significant departure from the traditional top-down method of printing using big-name publishers. Almond described this alternative process as “conducive to allowing a book to become an artifact that commemorates the communal experience, rather than a commodity.”

Bronwen Blaney, one of the Harvard Book Store’s managers, said that the machine also allows book vendors to get books that are old or in low supply to customers quickly and at prices as low as $8, depending on publishers’ demands and whether or not it is in the public domain.

Attendees at the debut of “This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey” had the option of having their own, hot-off-the-press copy of the book printed as they were treated to a reading of several excerpts from Almond’s self-published work. The subjects of the readings ranged from serious topics like Hitler’s demise to more humorous but instructive stories concerning unfriendly cashiers and the Red Sox.

After Almond’s well-received reading, several customers queued up to print copies of their book and get them signed by the author, whose joked that his goal for his evening was “to outsell Sarah Palin.”

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at dasiedu@fas.harvard.edu.

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