While in Cambridge last week I stopped into the Harvard Book Store (independently owned and operated at 1256 Mass Ave since 1932) to browse but to also track down a print-on-demand book making machine I had read about. Positioned between the stacks in the right rear of the store I found “Paige M. Gutenborg”, the custom printing machine that can churn out a library-quality paperback in minutes.
If you have a book in you, this might be the way to make it a reality. All you do is submit two PDF files, one for the book’s interior, the other for its cover and the machine pumps out one or more paperback copies for you. You retain all rights, you set the sales price, you do whatever you want with the resulting product. There are many price options but here’s an example for a hypothetical 200 page book that you want stored on their system to allow for the purchase of future copies: Basic cover with color and photo – $20; set-up fee with one free proof copy and unlimited additional copies priced per page – $70 (only $15 for no proof and no storage for future use); for 100+ pages it’s $9 for the first 100 plus $0.02 for each page thereafter, so our 200 page book would cost $11 per book.
Besides self-created books, this printer can also produce out-of-print, out-of-copyright titles for a reasonable fee. So if you have a favorite 19th century title on Google Books, you can have a hard copy of the book at an affordable price.
I believe there are many other publishing options available to would-be authors: there are local publishers such as our own Loom Press, Amazon has its own self-publishing operation, and I’m sure there are many more. The Harvard Book Store provides one more option albeit one you can actually see in operation at a nearby location. It might be worth paying a visit the next time you’re in Cambridge.