Jeff Altepeter, Bookbinding Instructor at North Benett Street School, gave me a copy of John J. Pledgers’ “Bookbinding and its Auxiliary Branches” which was printed on demand by the Espresso Book Machine. For expensive, hard to find books, the Espresso is great for people like me who basically want the textual information, and have difficulty concentrating while screen reading.
The Espresso bills the books it makes as a “Library Quality” binding. I’m not quite sure what this means, or even if this is a good thing, but the book is similar in quality to a mass produced paperback, with slightly better quality paper. The cover is lined up and it is well trimmed, but there is a suspiciously dark colored glue on the spine. If the grain of the paper ran head to tail, it might even open fairly well. For $8, however, it is cheaper and easier to read than a photocopy, though the images are a bit worse in quality. In many ways, the Espresso is getting close to the ultimate goal of bookbinding machinery inventors– to print and bind a book without human intervention, relatively inexpensively and reasonably durably.
Below is the same image from three versions of this book for comparison.
Fig. 1. Screen shot from Google Books.
Fig. 2. Image from the Espresso Book Machine Printing, using the Google Scan.
Fig. 3. From a photocopy I made in the 1990’s, from the Revised edition of 1924.