November 13, 2008


Bookstore's print-on-demand machine will change the face of publishing and retailing

Hamilton, ON. November 13, 2008 – A print-on-demand (POD) machine has been installed in Titles, McMaster University’s bookstore, eliminating the often long wait that accompanies the re-order of textbooks and mainstream titles.

Titles is one of just three bookstores in the world with a POD press. The other two are the University of Alberta and the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont, USA.

“This isn’t about printing knock-off books,” says Mark Lefebvre, Titles’ book operations manager. “All books coming off the machine will either be in the public domain or come with the explicit permission of the copyright owners. Whether it is an out-of-print classic or a hard-to-get title published in another country we can print it.”

A 250-page book takes five minutes to print using the Espresso Book Machine, and the cost to consumers should be no different than the version produced by the publisher.

Publishers and authors will continue to receive a royalty from each book printed.

“Titles is at the forefront in the development of custom courseware as a textbook alternative and we aggressively pursue used books as a cheaper alternative to their new counterparts,” says Donna Shapiro, director of Titles. “With POD we will now be able to offer another option to professors that will be more cost effective, customizable, and offer a very short production turn-around time so that students have the academic materials when they require them, not when the publisher can deliver them.”

The Espresso Book Machine cost US$174,000, and Lefebvre expects the cost will be recouped in a year or two of operation.

By January, Titles will have access to more than a million titles available in the POD database, giving it a competitive advantage over large retailers. The average Chapters/Indigo has about 90,000 titles in stock.

Lefebvre says the POD capability allows Titles, an independent bookstore owned and operated by McMaster University, and its customers to embrace the Shop Local concept: Titles’ profits contribute to student scholarships and bursaries.

“Our textbook buyers have always been interested in innovative ways to save students money," says Lefebvre. “I'm excited about this new opportunity to work with publishers to achieve savings that we can pass along to students.  We already have a textbook lined up for January that will save the students 30% off of the original cover price—all  thanks to our text buyers, the professor and the publisher working together with the students’ interest in mind.” 

The first book Titles hopes to reprint is one of the first books published in Hamilton—the 1853 City Directory, currently in the archives of the Hamilton Public Library.  Using the Kirtas APT BookScan at McMaster’s Mills’ Library, the book will be scanned and created in PDF form, and the file then uploaded to the McMaster Innovation Press, which would print trade paperback copies.

McMaster Innovation Press will be available for Faculty members to publish their own academic material, complete with an ISBN. Lefebvre hopes to revive the McMaster University Press imprint for academic works. As well, the Press will enable local authors to self-publish their work, as well as smaller publishers who can't afford the huge investment demanded from small print runs. 

McMaster University, a world-renowned, research-intensive university, fosters a culture of innovation, and a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University, one of only four Canadian universities to be listed on the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of more than 23,000, and an alumni population of more than 135,000 in 128 countries.


For more information, please contact:

Jane Christmas

Manager, Public & Media Relations

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 27988

Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext. 22869

Mark Lefebvre

Book Operations Manager, Titles

McMaster University

905-525-9140 ext 20326