By Camila Beiner
BU News Service
CAMBRIDGE — The Harvard Book Store has sold more than 800 copies of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-report since the Department of Justice released its redacted version on April 18.
An in-house printer at the bookstore hatches the copy of the report, which centers on Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, in eight to 10 minutes. Jeff Mayersohn, the bookstore’s owner, said he was aware publishers were going to sell printed copies of the report but would take them more than 10 days to print.
“We have this book-making capability in the store,” Mayersohn said, referring to the Paige M. Gutenborg, the in-house printing device. “So when various public events have happened, we’ve asked the question whether we can serve our customers by printing material related to the public event that isn’t available immediately through publishers.”
The report’s copy retails at $18.95 at the bookstore.
It’s important for you to know that someone (anonymously) sent flowers to Paige Gutenborg, our book machine, who has been working very hard printing copies of the #MuellerReport. pic.twitter.com/RWtwE0mZjQ
— Harvard Book Store (@HarvardBooks) April 22, 2019
The demand for the printed copies has been climbing, and the bookstore expects to have sold more than 1,000 copies by the end of the week, Mayersohn said.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the response; initially, we thought, ‘Well, maybe we can print 40 copies, and that would be good enough until the books from publishers began to show up,’” Mayersohn said. “And almost immediately it was clear that there was enormous demand for it.”
Mayersohn said early on in the process of printing the copies of the report, the bookstore realized it could not keep up the demand simply with the machine itself, so they enlisted a local printer partner to help with the printing of the book.
“We essentially ran out of ink, and we ran out of paper at some point so for a while we had to rely entirely on our outside printer, but the machine is back running again,” Mayersohn said.
As the report is available for free online, Mayersohn said he was unsure how interested customers would be in obtaining paper copies. But people are interested in buying the book because it is very difficult to read a dense book on a small device, he said.
“We think and our customers think that reading on paper, is the best format,” Mayersohn said. “We’re part of the digital age, and we appreciate the value of literature in any form but I think we prefer and our customers prefer paper first sometimes.”
Mayersohn said in the past they have created printed paper copies of books from speeches or public events and it has been very successful. In 2012, the book store printed the farewell speeches of Michelle and Barack Obama when they left the White House.
The Paige M. Gutenborg printer, which the bookstore calls a “book-making robot,” can print any book that is in the public domain, Mayersohn said. Since the printer started producing copies of the Mueller report, people have visited the book store just to see how the machine works, he said.
Carol Beggy, a customer at the Harvard Book Store, said the paper copy, unlike some digital versions, allows her to actually go through the report.
“[Harvard Book Store] prints anything that might be out of print but still exists online — you know, within the rights of copyright, they will go find you an old copy,” said Beggy, 54, of Arlington. “I was able to find from them an original copy of Porgy and Bess novel.”
Beggy said paper copies at the bookstore are more cost-effective than printing a personal copy at home.
“It would probably cost me two printer cartridges, and that would be a lot more expensive than just coming in,” Beggy said. “And plus it’s pretty, it’s nice and it’s bound.”
Beggy said understanding the report is important regardless of one’s political leaning. Every American should look at the report before immediately taking sides, Beggy said.
Mueller’s report has also gained traction on online marketplaces.
Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard Law School, sold a copy of the Mueller report on Amazon featuring an introduction he wrote. Almost a week after the report’s release, Dershowitz’s digital copy, which retails at $7.99, ranked No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon’s Civics category.
Dershowitz said he applauds the Harvard Book Store for making the Mueller report more accessible through printed copies. “There will be a lot of variations of volumes available and I think that’s very important so people can get many options on how they read it,” Dershowitz said. “I think every American should at least dip into it and get a sense of what the report says.”
Dershowitz said this is not the first time a government document has received so much nationwide attention. The 9/11 Commission Report has also received widespread attention after it became available to the public, he said.
“These kinds of reports tend to get attention and that is a good thing because you want an educated public and you want the public engaged in dialogue,” Dershowitz. “I think [Mueller Report] is probably more to visit than the ones in the past because