Many years ago, I used to do my own hand book binding. It was a slow process, but I wanted to have a handful of copies of my book for family and some close friends.
Luckily, I had access to a small printing press, but after that, it was all manual.
I had to fold every sheet of paper with a bone folder on a smooth flat surface to make the book pages and collate them together.
Once that was done, I had to trim the top and bottom and the leading edge of the book.
Then I had to make the covers with pieces of cardboard cut to size with a craft knife, which were covered in cloth like wrapping paper.
After that came the spine which I made with bookbinders cloth, and had to be just the right size for the number of pages.
The next stage was to glue the binding with hot glue and wrap on the book cover. Hopefully, the cover met the edge of the page and top of the book perfectly, which wasn’t always the case.
Lastly, was glueing a sheet of paper between the front cover and the first page, and the back cover and the last page.
If you have a plan to create a book using this binding method, be prepared for some frustration, and expense.
The cost alone of printer cartridges to print your letter sized book pages double sided is not cheap. Then once your pages are printed, you could spend days trying to find where you can buy a binders bone to fold pages.
Lastly, no matter how good your cover design is, a home printer will never do a good job.
If you are truly keen on doing it all yourself, here is a step by step guide on how to bind a book by Instructables.
Or, if you prefer to see how you can make a book by hand, here is a quick video.
Luckily there is a much cheaper and easier way and you don’t have to learn how to bind a book.
Making a book with online technology
Self-publishing is not only about writing a book to sell and make money.
There are so many other reasons you might want to create a book.
Perhaps you have a written a family history or a complete genealogy of your family. Another could be your biography or a life story that you would like to share with grandchildren.
You might want a book about your wedding that your children can keep forever.
But an ebook is certainly not something you can keep and hand down to younger generations.
Only a real book can be given and handed on and kept in pride of place on a bookshelf.
There are now many ways that you can produce a high quality book for a very modest cost per copy, with no minimum order requirement. If you only want, 5, 10, 20 or even only 1 copy, it is possible.
Using print on demand services
Print on demand (POD) is the easiest way to access bound book printing. There are many book printing services available online, so it is only a matter of making the best choice for your requirements.
Most offer perfect bound paperbacks in a range of book sizes with a full color cover. Some offer color printed pages as well.
The price per copy is normally calculated on the page count.
Generally, a paperback can be ready within a few business days, but hardcover books might take a little longer.
For most services, all you will need to supply is a print ready pdf file for the book interior.
This means that the format and layout are correct for the book size. Very often there are templates you can use to make this easier.
You will also need a high-resolution print quality cover file.
You may want to pay for a cover designer to create your cover file. However, for cover design, there is the option of using a cover creator to design your cover yourself.
What book publishing company choices do you have?
There are many choices if you want to find out how to produce a few copies of your book by using print on demand.
While all offer choice to publish and sell your book, you don’t need to opt for this option if you only want a few copies.
However, as this service is often free, you might want to consider it as an option perhaps for extended family to have access to buying your book.
But in the end, it will be for you to decide on the type of book you want and your needs or expectations regarding customer service.
Some offer assistance and guidance, while others are very much DIY.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is best known as a publishing platform for Kindle ebooks.
However, Amazon has recently merged Createspace into its KDP publishing platform for paperbacks.
Blurb has been on the scene since 2005 and specialises in photo books, trade books, and magazines.
If you only want a few copies, Blurb starts out by talking about creating a book project as a keepsake.
Trade books also include a free ISBN and bar code.
Bookbaby is generally more focused on self-publishing authors who want to sell their books.
However, there is a $99.00 BookShop Only Direct-to-reader Print On Demand option that might work for you.
Lulu was one of the very first POD companies when it was established in 2002.
It offers you paperback and hardcover in black & white or color as well as photo books and even calendars.
For the large range of book formats and sizes, Lulu is probably going to be one POD service that you will surely consider.
There are many more POD suppliers online, so some Google research might find you a lot more. But the four companies I have listed above are all very well known and highly reputable.
Whichever way you choose to go, you will have your book in a beautiful paperback or hardcover that you will be proud of and delighted to share with your family and friends.
Nothing competes with a real book for lasting value and sentimentality.
Only a book you can hold in your hands can do that.
Further reading: Vanity Publishing And Self-Publishing Are Not The Same