How To Make A Book For A Gift Or A Keepsake

How To Make A Book

It is easy to create a book for a gift that you will be proud to share with family and friends.

Many years ago, I used to do my own hand bookbinding.

It was a slow process, but I wanted to have a handful of copies of my book for my family and some close friends.

I had access to a small printing press, but after that, it was all manual work.

A handcrafted book

I had to fold every sheet of paper with a bone folder on a smooth flat surface to make the book pages. Then I had to collate them together.

Once I did that, I had to trim the top and bottom and the leading edge of the book.

Then I made the covers with pieces of cardboard cut to size with a craft knife, which I covered in cloth-like wrapping paper.

After that came the spine, which I made with bookbinders cloth. It had to be the right size for the number of pages.

The next stage was to glue the left edge binding with hot glue and wrap on the book cover.

Hopefully, the cover met the edge of the page and top of the book, which wasn’t always the case.

Lastly, I was gluing a piece of paper between the front cover and the first page and the back cover and the last page.

A home printer is expensive

If you have a plan to create a book using this bookbinding 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 you print your pages, you could spend days trying to find where you can buy a binder’s bone to fold your pages.

Lastly, no matter how good your cover design is, a home printer will never do a good job.

But if you are 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 homemade book or photo album by hand, here is a quick video. Click on the image to view.

How To Make A Book By Hand Video

Luckily there is a much cheaper and easier way. And you don’t have to learn how to bind a book.

It is easy to create a book for a gift for friends and family.


How to create a book for a gift with online technology

Self-publishing is not only about writing a book to sell and make money.

There are many other reasons you might want to create a book.

Perhaps you have written a family history or a complete genealogy of your family.

Another could be your autobiography or a life story that you would like to share with your grandchildren.

You might want a book about your wedding that your children can keep forever.

Maybe you want to print a book one of your children has written.

But an ebook is not something you can keep and hand down to younger generations.

Only a real book is a perfect gift that can be given and handed on and kept in pride of place on a bookshelf.

There are many ways you can produce a high-quality personalized book for a modest cost per copy, with no minimum order requirement. If you want 5, 10, 20, or even only 1 copy, it is possible.


Use 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 soft cover perfect bound paperbacks in a range of book sizes with a full-color cover. Some offer color-printed pages.

The price per copy is generally 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 are print-ready pdf files for the book interior and front and back cover.

It means that the format and layout are correct for the book size. Very often, there are templates you can use when you format your book to make this easier.

You will also need to use 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.


Book publishing company choices

There are many choices if you want to find out how to produce a few copies of your book by using print on demand.

All offer the choice to publish and sell your book. But 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.

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 DIY.


The best services to create gift books


blurb1. Blurb

Blurb has been on the scene since 2005 and specializes in photo books, trade books, and magazines.

If you only want a few copies, you can use Blurb to create top-quality trade books.

There are many choices for the types of books you can create.

You can create children’s books, cooking books, family photo books, or a novel.

The only limit is your imagination if you want to create a book for a gift.

For authors, there are multiple formats and cover choices for trade books. As a bonus, all trade books also include a free ISBN and bar code.


bookbaby2. Bookbaby

Bookbaby is 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.


lulu3. Lulu

Lulu was one of the first POD companies when it was established in 2002.

It offers you paperback and hardcover in black & white or color. It also offers photo books and calendars.

For the large range of book formats and sizes, Lulu is probably going to be one POD service that you will surely consider.


amazon kdp4. Amazon KDP Publishing

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.

You can choose from a long list of book sizes, and there is a lot of help available on the KDP help page.


There are many more POD suppliers online. If you do some Google research, you might find a lot more.

But the four companies I have listed above are all very well known and highly reputable. With any of them, you can easily create a book for a gift.

Whichever way you choose to go, you will have your book in a beautiful paperback or hardcover. You will be proud of it and delighted to share it with your family and friends.

As an unforgettable gift, nothing competes with a real book for lasting value and sentimentality.

Only a book you can hold in your hands can do that.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

Avatar for Derek Haines

2 thoughts on “How To Make A Book For A Gift Or A Keepsake

  • Avatar for Kathy Wozniak
    October 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    My seven-year-old granddaughter loves to write books. She has four fairy books that she wrote and illustrated herself. She says there a series and she’s number them 1 2 3 and 4. I want to surprise her for Christmas and make a book out of them. Someone I want to surprise her for Christmas and make a book out of them. Someone suggested just doing it on Shutterfly, but I’d like to find a better way. Any advice please?

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      October 29, 2020 at 3:20 pm

      The four choices noted in this article are the best options I know about at present.


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