Why Print and Bind Your Own Books…

Have you every stared at your computer screen while reading an e-book until you just could not focus your eyes anymore? Have you ever wished you could reach up to the screen and jot a quick note in the margin? Do you find the speed of downloading an E-Book satisfying but the lack of a physical book limiting? There is a solution that is easy, inexpensive, and fun!

Bad Ways to Print a Book

E-Books are a wonderful invention. I have dozens of them on my computer and PDA. But some books just need to be printed. In the past, when I came across one of these, I would print it out and staple the corner or punch holes in it and stick it in a bulky 3-ring binder. Printing one page per sheet of paper seemed wasteful, so I got fancy and printed out all of the odd pages, flipped the stack and printed out the even pages. That cut my paper useage in half.

Later I learned that Adobe Acrobat Reader (the software that displays PDF e-books) lets you print more than one page to a sheet of paper. It will shrink 4 or 8 pages of your book and print them onto one sheet of paper. A neat trick that saves paper, but I was still carrying around a stack of paper and the text got very small and hard to read. What I really wanted was a book, but I did not think I could make one on my own. Not true!

A Simple Way To Create A Paperback Book

Turning an e-book into a paperback book is a surprisingly easy and inexpensive process. With a few simple tools and supplies (my first book was made using paint stirring sticks, 2 cotton swabs, and some cheap office binder clamps) you can create a 5.5″ x 8.5″ trade paperback book.

The most complex part of the whole process is printing out the book. You can either print each page to a full size sheet of paper, printing all of the odd pages first and flipping the stack to print the even pages on the back, or print the pages in booklet format with two pages printed on each side and then fold the printed sheets in half to create a booklet of 4 pages. In order for the pages to be on the right order when the sheet is folded, they have to get swapped around in a process called Imposing (as in “Imposing a new page order.”) Special software is required to do this, but there are options available for around $100. You can also purchase your paper at a copy shop and ask them to cut it in half using their heavy-duty paper cutter. Then you will not have to deal with paper folding and still get the advantages of a smaller book.

Once the pages are in order you can clamp them together along the spine and glue them together. After the glue dries, you can create a cover out of heavy cover stock paper, fold it to wrap around the book, add more glue to the inside edge of the cover, and assemble the book. I usually let everything dry overnight and have a good strong paperback version of my e-book ready the next morning.

E-Books Are Not the Only Books You Can Print

Since I learned this technique I have bound over a dozen books. With a little creativity you can create books with glossy color covers that are hard to distinguish from a store-bought book. You do not just have to limit yourself to printing e-books. If you have a manuscript you have written, it is easy to set the page formatting in your word processor and print our your own book. No need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a print shop to make you a pile of books, print them on your desktop.