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Insider Article [January 2013] [01/08/13] (I Street Press at Sacramento Public Library)
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I Street Press at Sacramento Public Library

Espresso Book Machine

In 2011, the Sacramento Public library received a Library Services and Technology Act grant to create a community based publishing center, which centered on a nifty piece of machinery called an Espresso Book Machine. The machine takes a digital file and in 3 ½-5 minutes, prints out a bookstore quality paperback book.

In addition to self-publishing, we offer publishing and writing classes and we have access to a catalog of over three million out of print and backlist titles that readers and researchers can print out on the Espresso Book Machine. It is clear that we are providing a service that people want, but adding on a layer of community connection is what makes this project so special. LuLu, CreateSpace and Author House offer a similar product line but they do it through an impenetrable wall; it is nameless and faceless. By offering a face-to-face service in a way that celebrates uniqueness and creativity, we have tapped into an emotional need: It’s one thing to upload a title to an internet site and receive books in the mail a few days later, it’s quite another thing for a customer to pull their first printed book off the machine and feel that it is still warm. Our intention is simple. We want to celebrate creativity and offer people a place to express themselves through writing and ultimately, through print.

In our first year of operation, the I Street Press has printed more than 5,000 books. Topics included the status of African-American women in modern society, several fantasy/science fiction books, a memoir about surviving bulimia, another memoir by a refugee from Afghanistan and many more. The interest in I Street has been extremely high. We offer two free information sessions each month and most result in some sort of project.

In this age of eBooks and technology there is still a strong desire to produce a printed piece of work. People want a tangible item that they can give to their family and friends or something about which they can say, “I made this. This is mine.” I Street Press: A Community Writing & Publishing Center is more than just a book printing machine. It is a safe and supportive space where both experienced writers and creative souls can express themselves.

Rivkah Sass, Library Director
Sacramento Public Library