Sunday, 11 May 2008

Print on Demand Conundrum

So here's a question. In the name of research, I spend a lot of time either reading articles online or printing them out to read offline. Since I spend too much of my life staring at screens, I'd rather read them offline - but stapled-together printouts aren't a great format, either, particularly for longer articles. This afternoon, I thought: what if I could use a print-on-demand service to have whole sets of articles bound as one-off books for my use?

Now, the copyright status of these articles varies, but all have been freely published online - often in PDF or on sites which offer a "Print" version with most of the non-text content stripped out. So they have been made available for me to print a personal copy. If I compile a PDF of a dozen articles and order a single copy of it from a print-on-demand service, bound as a paperback, it doesn't feel like I'd be crossing a line in terms of my use of the material. But I suspect the print-on-demand provider wouldn't see it as acceptable use of their service.

Any thoughts, anyone?


Steve Hayes said...

Sounds like a very useful idea.

Dougald Hine said...

Thanks, Steve. I guess my concern is that I've never used a Print-on-Demand service, and I've no idea how rigorous they are about copyright issues. If anyone knows a service that has a healthy "don't ask, don't tell" approach, I'd welcome recommendations!

(Incidentally, I guess part of the idea of blogging about this is to be clear that, whatever the legal niceties, I'm not trying to do anything I don't think is reasonable.)

SimplyTim said...

Hi Dougald,

Remember me? :)

I wonder what it would be like if you printed the compiled pdf file, both sides of the paper so it is more compact, with margins which are pleasing to you, put something thicker for the front and back cover, and then YOU put some kind ofbook binders glue along the spine of it all...poor man's book...I even think Illych would like it.

(Mind you, I don't have a clue about the glue and how thick it has to be, etc., but some simple experimentation should solve that.) And since you are just assembling it for yourself it shouldn't be an issue with the copyright issue.


SimplyTim said...

I found this on youtube...this is part 1/6 and you can buy the dvd.

Pretty interesting just to watch how it's done even if you decide to not do it youself.


Dougald Hine said...

Hi Tim - nice to hear from you! I hope life is treating you well. And thank you for an excellent solution.

For some reason the YouTube link doesn't seem to work. But it occurs to me that, when (in a few weeks time) we add the ability to post learning requests on School of Everything, my first request will be for a book-binding teacher! :-)

(Reminds me, also, of William Golding's comments about the resilience of the book, which I blogged about ages ago.)

SimplyTim said...

Let's try this...

of course it tends to help when the address is added...


mori said...

That is actually a great idea. I have such a puny stapler that I can't even staple the article if it's more than 10pages.
It appears that 'fair dealing' applies to your purpose; therefore you can print it legally.

let me know if you find a good print-on-demand provider :)

mori said...

link got broken... let's try again

UK IP office

SimplyTim said...


You may want to take a look at Dan Price. His website is:

He writes, illustrates and photographs his meanderings and self-publishes his creations.

My all time favorite of his 5" x 6" books, each approximately 100 pages is Radical Simplicity. A true gem - both the book and the man.


Mark said...

Interesting stuff, Dougald. Looking forward to finding out what you decide and what the final quality is like. I tend to use my Nokia Tablet for reading away from the computer - but, let's face it, it's still a screen, even if I can slouch in an armchair with it.

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