Over the last year, our two ABC Espresso Book Machines have printed and bound more than 150 self-published titles, plus countless books from the On Demand Books & Google Books database. That’s hundreds of works – and heaven knows how many actual books – that would only have existed in bits and bytes, or in the hearts and minds of their authors before the easy and affordable EBM came along.
We’ve been endlessly amazed by the number of different uses people have come up with for our book machines – from school assignments and dissertations, to history books and travelogues, and even art books! We’ve been talking to some of the very first people to use the continent’s first Espresso Book Machines, to find out about their experiences of writing and printing their own book.
Bartjan Hooft told us about designing and printing his thesis on the EBM.
Tell us about your book.
The title is ‘Building With Tyre Waste: Sustainable options for South Africa’. It’s technically not a book but can be seen as one. The ‘book’ is a thesis for my Msc in Architecture from the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, UK.
The research looks at how car tire waste can be used, re-used and recycled into building materials in South Africa. The thesis is a scientific document (14000-18000 words) that is structured to answer a specific question.
What was the writing process like?
The whole process took about 8 months. Part of the research was carried out in Durban, South Africa where the initial idea started, and where I had lived for two years. The actual writing happened in Amsterdam, since I moved here in April. The move from South Africa to Amsterdam was unsettling at first, but with time I got accustomed to the new environment and got into writing/working pattern. I think the bad weather this summer also helped, with less incentive to go outside into the sun!
My routine involved waking up early as I discovered that I worked better in the mornings.
What made you want to write?
Thats easy to answer: I had a deadline! The more I came to understand the topic the more interested I became. There is always this threshold in the process and once you pass the hard bit of getting started and figuring out your methodology then the rest becomes more relaxed.
You were one of the first people to use our Espresso Book Machine. How did you find out about it?
I found out about the EBM through a contact who works at the University of Amsterdam and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He had students who had used the EBM and recommended that I try it out considering the urgency of my deadline. At first I was hesitant of doing it with the EBM, mainly because it was a new concept and coming from a graphic background with knowledge of conventional book techniques, the speed and process of the EBM seemed too good to be true. However I did not have much time to consider all the options, as time was running out. I had to bank on somewhere from the start of the book making process and just go for it. I was quickly re-assured by Maria that it was going to work, and a preliminary test showed everything was in the right place.
How did you find the process of making your text into a book?
Well I found it really easy. But I think that is because I am used to working with print layout due to my profession (design architect and visualiser of art projects) and think it would be slightly harder for others if not accustomed to working with pdf documents and book making layout programs. This would be mainly for the cover I think: the text layout is easily done in a word document.
One other thing is working out the measurements for the layout as the EBM does everything in imperial measurements – feet and inches - making the conversion slightly more difficult. I found that the easiest thing to do here is save your document units as imperial inches – most programs, being American, will allow this – and avoid the need for conversions. It would be good to double check that you are within the area specified by the EBM by doing a conversion to metric millimeters. The EBM publishing guidelines on the website show clearly what is needed in mm as well as inches though.
The specified format for the thesis was A4 but in the case of international students the closest format is accepted. The only bad thing about that is you have to fit everything onto a smaller page. With tables or images that have text, reducing the size makes them harder to read.
The whole experience was very interesting for me. Also the time it takes the EBM to make one of my books was just so fast that I could literally watch it being made. A very cool design I must say as the EBM allows you to look in and see each individual process.
What happened to your book after it was printed?
Four copies have been sent to the examiners in the UK where it’s being read and marked. So I hope that its all good from here. If I ever need another book in this format then the EBM seems the easiest way to do it.
Funnily enough, it’s only after printing it and you have a copy in your hands that you finally realise what you have made. The EBM really makes you feel like you have made a book!