How can I best format and print out public domain books from Google Books?
April 18, 2010 5:13 AM   Subscribe

I can't get enough of Google's public domain books. Help me be my own book machine.

So I've fallen in love with all the out-of-print books on Google Books. I want them all, in fact. In hard copies. My local bookstore used to provide them for only eight dollars (via that lovely book machine), but that price has since proved economically unwise for the bookstore and now I must pay about double that to secure a single book.

So I'm trying to find a way to be my own book machine. I'm willing to buy a high-quality laser printer, but I'm not sure about the software I need to format/impose the Google pdfs. I checked out similar threads on AskMeFi, but they were several years old and I'm wondering if there have been any innovations in, well, printing out Google Books and making them into real books.

I've heard of ClickBook, but it's hard to tell if that is what I need exactly. I have Microsoft Publisher, but I don't know if it can impose the pdfs properly.

And any suggestions about the best way to cut and bind my books would also be appreciated. This type of project is totally new to me, so thank you in advance for your help!
posted by Ylajali to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Minimal effort route to finding old books: set a search on ebay for the title so that it sends you an email when someone lists it. Wait. Buy them as and when they turn up.

Little bit more effort: look elsewhere, too.

Typesetting/formatting/etc. books: see if formats other than pdfs exist, e.g. at Project Gutenberg. They will be much easier to reformat. Otherwise you may need to get into reformatting them yourself, which will be annoying. I've only ever done formatting and imposition in Microsoft Word, which isn't really the right program for the task, so can't offer much help there (the way I did it, with a 60 000 word document, was to make a separate document for each signature, and fiddle around from there. It ended up pretty much ok apart from the last line on each page. Not planning on doing it again though).

Making books: practice with small ones. Consider going on a weekend course somewhere if you can. Get a book that explains stuff; I've used one by Keith Smith that I found very clear and helpful, but I had also previously worked with someone that knew what they were doing. (I've used the 1-2-&3-Section Sewings book, and adapted to design my own sewings or make books with more signatures).

handmadebooks on livejournal has tutorials, if you'd like to start looking there. They also have many, many pretty books and probably more information about formatting and so on.
posted by Lebannen at 5:58 AM on April 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might also consider collecting used books. Finding the original via your local used book store or Ebay may be cheaper, be of much better quality, and will save a tree.
posted by JJ86 at 7:03 AM on April 18, 2010

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