Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine


HP Labs Revives Titles for MIT Print On Demand Program

Press release from the issuing company

PALO ALTO, Calif.--April 22, 2003-- HP today announced that technology developed by HP Labs is enabling MIT Press to restore 1,750 out-of-print titles for inclusion in the Press' new print-on-demand program, called the MIT Classics Series. In order to deliver reprinted copies of the Classics Series on demand, out-of-print titles were scanned and then were processed by HP to create clean, searchable, high-quality PDF files for both online and print use. (PDF is a file format developed by Adobe Systems that makes it possible to have formatted documents appear on a recipient's monitor or printer as they were intended.) The system used was a scanned document image analysis system specially developed by researchers in HP Labs. "Print-on-demand is a model publishers have worked on for a long time, and The MIT Press is excited to be one of the publishers at the leading edge of realizing this dream," said Terry Lamoureux, production manager, MIT Press. "Thanks to HP and our other partners, we are able to offer our customers access to a wide array of previously unavailable titles in high-quality editions at a reasonable cost." The typical error rate during the conversion of a manually scanned work to a print-quality digital file is approximately three to five percent. Both human error, such as skipped pages or skewed scans, and computer errors, like misclassifying a photograph as text, can cause costly and time-consuming problems when hundreds of thousands of pages are involved, as they were with the Classics Series. Using multiple analysis algorithms developed in HP Labs, HP was able to analyze and digitally reconstruct pages with an error rate of less than .001 percent. The total corpus of the Classics Series was converted to print-quality .pdf files in less than six weeks. "HP Labs looks to invent ways to radically simplify the processes businesses use to deliver value to their customers," said John Burns, manager of printing and publishing services, HP Labs. "Our work with MIT Press is a great example of how HP Labs can partner with a forward-thinking company to create effective solutions to complex problems." Academic publishers typically do a limited number of printings for a particular title and discard or repurpose the physical plates once the print runs are complete. Any copies of the title not sold are customarily stored in warehouses. Once a title goes "out-of-print" -- when no more copies are left in the warehouse -- it is lost to interested readers because the cost of resetting the plates for another print run traditionally has outweighed the revenue generated from additional sales. HP Labs' work with MIT Press enables the Press to offer more titles to its customers without having to keep them in inventory or carry out another print run. MIT Press turned the high-quality .pdf files created by HP Labs over to R.R. Donnelley /Allentown Digital Services, which reviewed the files for consistency and print-readiness, prepared the underlying descriptions of the files for the Press' online order system and delivered final text and cover files to Edwards Brothers, a short-run printer. MIT Press now electronically sends Classics Series orders to Edwards Brothers, which then prints, binds, packages and ships the books within 48 hours of receiving the order. Through the resulting print-on-demand system, MIT Press now has a cost-effective way to fulfill individual orders, even for single copies of obscure or out-of-print titles. More information on MIT Press' print-on-demand process is available at http://mitpress.mit.edu.