Thursday, October 8, 2009

First Installment of Technical Info

For the moment I will stop providing updates on the present, and concentrate on the (recent) past. I'm going to give some details about what hardware and software I'm using or planning to use, some points about how I chose it, and some discussion of sources of information.

First, the information sources. There are many, many books in print currently about self-publishing. One that is often cited is the Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter, which is updated every couple of years or so. The edition I have is from 2007. It's an excellent general reference work. Another one I've just started reading is The Well-Fed Self-Publisher, by Peter Bowerman, a follow-up to his two earlier books about freelance writing in general. But, as I said, there are many others.

A subset of self-publishing books is books about "print-on-demand," which, generally speaking, is the process of having books printed in small quantities as needed, rather than in one-time batches of hundreds or thousands, as is the norm in commercial publishing. One good general book on this topic is Print-On-Demand Book Publishing, by Morris Rosenthal. Another one, which I recommend highly because of its frankness and very detailed "inside" information, is Aiming at Amazon, by Aaron Shepard, with copyright dated 2007-09, so it's quite up-to-date.

Then I come to the two books that are the only books I have found so far that discuss the type of endeavor I'm working on -- that is, self-printing and binding as well as self-publishing. The more recent of these two books is A Quick Guide to Book-On-Demand Printing, by Roger MacBride Allen, published in 2000. This is a very well-written and informative book, and it goes into excellent detail about the process of actually producing your own books, from page design all the way through to binding.

Finally, the book that is in some respects my primary "bible" for this project, though it's getting a bit dated: Book-on-Demand Publishing, by Rupert Evans, published in 1995. This last book is my favorite in part because the character of the author shines through it in a very personable way. From postings on the internet and information in Roger Allen's book (which acknowledges a considerable debt to the Rupert Evans book), it emerges that Rupert Evans is a college professor with a doctorate who enjoys printing and binding books in small quantities at his home, for himself, for neighbors, and, evidently, anyone who asks him. His book discusses in very useful detail the various alternative methods of printing, and how to select papers, printing devices, binding equipment, paper cutters, and the like. For an example, although he did purchase a commercial book-binding machine, he says that, if he were starting over, he would get an electric frying pan to melt the glue that's used to bind books, rather than spending the money for a more elaborate machine that doesn't accomplish the end result appreciably better.

There's one other book I need to mention, which focuses only on one aspect of the process. That is Book Design and Production, by Pete Masterson. This is an excellent reference work with specific details about how to do page layout, cover design, and prepare a book to go to the printer.

If anyone knows of other good books in these areas, especially any focusing on printing and binding your own books, I would be very interested to hear about them.

In a future post, I will discuss software and equipment, among other matters.

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