Printing Your Book

After you have the text you want in your book formatted, (or have decided to use one of my formatted books), the next step is printing your book. I print my books on regular printer paper using a laser duplexing printer set to short-edge binding.

I prefer a laser printer because the overall price per page is lower, and the print won’t smear and run if it gets wet. The toner refills are crazy expensive, but you don’t need to replace them very often.

Realistically, to print your book, you need a duplexing printer that is able to automatically print both sides of the page. Theoretically, you can manually duplex… but that would be a big job for the number of pages necessary for even the shortest books. I have no experience with this, but you could give it a try! I have a Brother black only duplex laser printer that cost in the range of $100 on sale.

I would love a colour laser duplexing printer, but they are out of my budget at the moment, so I print most of my books in black and white and get my colour pages printed elsewhere.

Print the pages for your book double sided with short-edge binding (rather than long edge-binding) selected. This ensures that the pages are the same side up front and back. I generally print the first 10 pages of the book first to make sure I haven’t made a silly error. (The price of printing your book goes up if you misprint 80 pages of book and have to reprint them all!)

On my Mac, in Preview, I select the print menu, then click the box that says “Two Sided”.

Then I open the menu that says “Preview” and select “Layout”.

Finally, the “Two-Sided” menu comes up, and I change it from the default “long edge binding” to the “short edge binding” that I need.

Then press print!

Of course, your print menu won’t be exactly like mine, but hopefully you can easily print your book pages and be ready to move on to the next step in making your own book – creating the text block.

Steps to Binding Your Own Book:

Step 1: Prepare or Select Text

Step 2: Print your Text (You are here!)

Step 3: Sew your Text Block

Step 4: Make and Attach the Cover

Preparing the Text for Your Book

If you are going to print and bind your own book, the first thing you need to do is prepare and format the text of your book. You are also welcome to use one of the books I have already formatted that are ready to go.

If you decide to format your own book to bind it yourself, there are several things to consider.

Copyright and Sources

The first, of course, is copyright. You should only be printing text that you haver permission to print, either because you wrote it yourself or because it is out of copyright in your country. Some things are out of copyright, but someone else spent time making it available for use and they retain some copyright over that particular version of it. In some cases you are still able to print it for personal use. It is worth taking a little care to make sure that you don’t print something that you do not have a legal right to print.

Text vs PDF

Another thing to consider is what is available to you. Many books are available free of copyright in an editable text version on Project Gutenberg. These are books that are out of copyright that volunteers have carefully copied of us all to use freely. Other books are available only in un-editable PDF versions from sources like the Internet Archive. I believe these are free of copyright, but you should confirm for yourself.

My favourite source for text is Project Gutenberg. I copy the HTML version of the text from Project Gutenberg into Word or another word processor and format it exactly as I would like.

For books that are only available as PDFs, you can make some small adjustments (like the number of pages, order of the pages, etc.) but there are fewer changes you can make. Of course, someone else has already carefully formatted these for printing. If you spend a little time, you can make quite a nice book from these sources. One little hint: make sure that left pages are on the left side and right pages on the right side in your finished product, or your page numbers could look strange!

What are Signatures?

Your book will be made up of several signatures, or little booklets. Each booklet is made up of of 3 to 6 pieces of paper. Each sheet of paper has four pages of the book on it. I like to ensure that each signature in my book has the same number of pages (although this isn’t perhaps strictly necessary). To do this, my book must be a multiple of both 4 and a multiple of the number of sheets of paper in each signature. This limits the possible number of pages in a book.

General Book Layout

The very first page and the very last of your book are ideally blank, as you glue them in part to the cover.

Remember which pages of your book will be facing each other in your finished product. Page 1 will be on its own, and pages 2 and 3 will face each other. Then pages 4 and 5 are another pair. When I am working on my book layout in Word, I add an extra blank page at the beginning of my book when I shrink the view to see two pages at a time, those two pages are ones that will be next to each other in my finished book.

An extra page so I can see which pages line up while I am fine tuning my final layout.

You may want to look at a real book to look for some common conventions that make books easier to read. There aren’t universal rules that apply to all books, but you should think about them. Where do the page numbers go? Where do the titles go? Do you want headers with chapter names or the book title? Do you want every chapter to start on a right page? You can do many of these things in Word and other word processors.

Creating Signatures

I used a program called Create Booklet purchased from the App Store on my Mac for about $10. When I have prepared my document as desired in Word, I can then print and choose “Open in Create Booklet” in the bottom left corner (where it normally says PDF). This program offers the option to “split into” booklets. Preview the book to make sure you are happy with it. Then you can export it to save it as a PDF to share with others, or print it straight from Create Booklet.

Books Formatted for Binding

I have prepared a few books, formatted and divided into signatures (and plan to create more in the future). Many of them I specifically formatted by me for printing, although some have been made from resources that I could only find as PDFs. As far as I know, all the book contents are in the public domain. Please feel free to download and print the books I have formatted for binding for your own use.

When you are ready to bind your book, go on to the next step, printing your book.

Steps to Binding Your Own Book:

Step 1: Prepare or Select Text (You are here!)

Step 2: Print your Text

Step 3: Sew your Text Block

Step 4: Make and Attach the Cover

Books Formatted for Binding

Here are books from the public domain that I have formatted to print and bind. Feel free to download the PDF files to print the books for your own personal use.

Geography for Primary Grades by C.C. Long

(Some of) Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

Viking Tales by Jennie Hall

Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge

Great Astronomers by Robert Ball

First Studies of Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson (from PDF)

Paper Sloyd: A Handbook for Primary Grades by Ednah Anne Rich (from PDF)

I will continue to add more books as I prepare them.

Steps to Binding Your Own Book:

Step 1: Prepare or Select Text (You are here!)

Step 2: Print your Text

Step 3: Sew your Text Block

Step 4: Make and Attach the Cover

Printing and Binding Your Own Books

If there are books you want to read that are out of copyright and available free online, but, like me, you prefer to hold a paper book in your hands, you might be interested to hear that you can print your own copy of those books, and then sew them up to make your own real books.

I learned how to create a hardcover bound book by watching YouTube. I found the videos by Sea Lemon particularly helpful. But she prints blank books. I figured out how to type set my books through trial and error and patience.

If you want to to know how much this will cost, I figured out that it can cost less than 2 cents per page to bind your own book!

The first step is to prepare your text for printing, or you are free to use one of the books I have already formatted for binding.

The second step is to print your book.

The third step is to sew together your text block.

Finally, the last step is to create and attach the cover.

It may seem daunting at first, but it is an easy and fulfilling craft. From printing to sewing can easily be completed in two days, with plenty of time for doing other things while the glue dries.

Steps to Binding Your Own Book:

Step 1: Prepare or Select Text

Step 2: Print your Text

Step 3: Sew your Text Block

Step 4: Make and Attach the Cover