Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London
Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait by Alison Flood for the guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 April 2009 00.05 BST
It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.
Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”
From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.
The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.
Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia… “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”
from http://www.newyorker.com/humor/issuecartoons/2009/11/16/cartoons_20091109?slide=2#showHeader (broken link)
Males have more pronounced personalities than females across a range of species – from humans to house sparrows – according to new research. Consistent personality traits, such as aggression and daring, are also more important to females when looking for a mate than they are to males. Research from the University of Exeter draws together a range of studies to reveal the role that sexual selection plays in this disparity between males and females.
The study shows that in most species males show more consistent, predictable behaviours, particularly in relation to parental care, aggression and risk-taking. Females, on the other hand, are more likely to vary their behaviour. They are also more likely to respond to these traits and therefore seem to be ‘choosier’ about the personality of a potential mate.
The research, which is published in the journal Biological Reviews (18 November 2009) draws on several studies, dating back to 1972. It is the latest study in a growing body of research from a University of Exeter team that links gender personality differences to sexual selection.
The authors believe sexual selection may hold the key to this variation. A concept originally developed by Charles Darwin, sexual selection is the theory that evolutionary traits can be explained by competition between one sex – usually males – for mates and by (female) mate choice. While the physical attributes resulting from sexual selection – from dazzling peacocks tails to over-sized antler horns – are well known, there has been much less of a focus on the impact on personality.
Lead author Dr Wiebke Schuett of the University of Exeter says: “Our study is the first to bring together research about the impact of sexual selection on personality in humans and other animals. Our study suggests that, while males tend to exhibit more pronounced personalities, including more predictable behaviour, in a range of different contexts, females are more receptive to these traits in males. We found a surprising level of similarity across a range of species.”
This paper supports research carried out by the same team, published in the journal Animal Behaviour (February 2009). The team studied the social and feeding behaviours of a population of zebra finches. They found that although the male zebra finches did not explore their environment more than the females, they were more consistent in their exploratory behaviour. The team concluded that males are more likely to be selected as mates if they are consistent in any behaviour that would be beneficial to a partnership and its offspring. This would include finding food or seeing off predators.
Dr Sasha Dall of the University of Exeter, the team leader, says: “This body of research suggests that male personality could have evolved in much the same way as signs of physical attractiveness – to help attract a mate. Scientists have not given the role of sexual selection in shaping animal personality much consideration in the past. We hope that our work will pave the way for further research in this rather overlooked subject.”
Dr Wiebke Schuett was funded by the European Social Fund.
The paper, entitled Sexual Selection and Animal Personality, can be accessed at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119878059/issue (DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2009.00101.x)
Yep they’re undies. Something to wear to your local sporting event.
Google goggles has been brought out for phones running android software. Take a picture of a tourist icon, a painting, a shop, a book or a business card and have it identified and linked to the internet.
Its not so good on plants as yet.
http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence [!sigh! broken link]