How to Create Cheap Bound Editions of Printed Out Material
May 22, 2007 9:52 AM   Subscribe

I hate reading on screen, so I do lots of printing of articles I grab from the web. But for really long articles or ebooks, especially where I'd like to store a (hard) copy, I often wish there was a way to create a more or less bound copy. Publishing-On-Demand doesn't work for single run-offs (it's expensive and requires copy to be set in Quark). Adding clips to printouts isn't quite the same as binding. there a service out there where I could email a PDF and have them mail me back some reasonable approximation of a book? Even if it's 8.5x11 copy paper pages just cheaply "bound"? Even better would be if I could get something like this from copy shops, Staples, or other local service outlets.
posted by jimmyjimjim to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
How about taking your documents to Kinkos, or a similar local print shop, and have them print and bind it for you?
posted by pcward at 10:08 AM on May 22, 2007

That's what I was thinking... take the PDF to a copy shop, have them print it duplexed (2-sided) and bound... there are a lot of relatively cheap options... wire, plastic, etc. etc.
posted by bucko at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Didn't know you could do that. Is it reasonably priced and decent quality?
posted by jimmyjimjim at 10:10 AM on May 22, 2007

Why not invest in your own binding machine? It's easy enough to operate one.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:12 AM on May 22, 2007

You can even print through the web to kinkos and just go pick it up.
posted by ThePants at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Just found this:

Also, I found a report from a kinko's employee that tape binding falls apart fast. I wonder how much their book binding is...
posted by jimmyjimjim at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2007

This previous MeFi thread might help you.
posted by RogerB at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2007

check these guys out.


My boss had gotten a pretty big PDF (a server Admin book)printed as a book and it looks really nice. I dont know about cost or turn around, but they did a nice job.
posted by ShawnString at 10:29 AM on May 22, 2007

I do this all the time at Kinkos with programming manuals I download in PDF form online. I take them in, sometimes even just on USB Keychain, and they print them on the duplex printer and then spiral-bind them for me.
posted by SpecialK at 10:43 AM on May 22, 2007

^^^^ Last time I did it I think it cost me $10.
posted by SpecialK at 10:44 AM on May 22, 2007

Couldn't you just buy pre-punched three hole punch paper and put it in a regular three ring binder of your choice? Print, put in binder, read, recycle paper and binder. Cheap and easy.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2007

If you were interested in binding it yourself checkout:
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 10:55 AM on May 22, 2007

Agreeing to go with Kinkos. Their web order form is very nice, and accepts PDF files that you upload to them. I did this with Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby when I was learning that language.
posted by Eddie Mars at 10:56 AM on May 22, 2007

crap - do not go there - the guy has changed the page and started charging for his method of DIY bookbinding.


posted by Wong Fei-hung at 10:58 AM on May 22, 2007

Instructables has a page describing diy binding--

DIY perfect binding
posted by craniac at 11:37 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, Shawnstring, Lulu does perfect binding at less than half the price of Kinko's crappy coil binding.

At least...they seem to. Their site is slightly impenatrable (beware any site with 4000 FAQs), and I smell hidden charges and minimums.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2007

after i post that i dug a little deeper on lulu. it seems pretty upfront about their charges. boss man, after he got his copy of his book, went and got 4 more of the same title for everyone one else in the office. oh boy. /sarcasm

and he would know if there were hidden charges/scams etc. he hunts for things like that
posted by ShawnString at 11:57 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I went thru the whole process (note: you must embed fonts in your Macintosh, just print, and choose 'save as pdf-x" to embed the fonts), and it's not bad. Circa 100page perfect bound book is $7, $10.73 with tax and (media mail0 shipping. That's a lot better than Kinko's, and it's perfect bound.

The one catch is the user agreement requires that you own copyright, so if you're using this for someone else's material, you're in violation. But I'm figuring I can't do much harm if I set it to not be available for other people...only me.

The other setback is they don't ship for 3-5 days, to allow for printing process. I'm surprised about this...shouldn't be that hard for them to be able to print/ship near-instantly.

I think this is definitely the best way, though Kinko's is better if you want it fast. Thanks again, Shawnstring
posted by jimmyjimjim at 12:17 PM on May 22, 2007

Print(fu) seems like they have a daily order cap. (they're not taking any more orders today) But they print from PDF super-cheap and ship out the same day. The only caveat is that they don't do color.
posted by braintoast at 2:51 PM on May 22, 2007

oh yeah... at Print(fu), books withs with 1-300 pages are coil bound, books with 301-700 are comb bound, books with more than 700 pages are 3 hole drilled and shrink wrapped.
posted by braintoast at 2:52 PM on May 22, 2007

I second (or third? or fourth?) They are an excellent service and will do you good.
posted by silasjones at 2:58 PM on May 22, 2007

I'm the same way -- I also prefer to read a lot of things on paper. I tried the DIY perfect binding, and it's easy, but too time-consuming. But the main problem for me is that with arthritis, just holding a perfect bound book (they pretty much require two hands to hold) can get painful after a few minutes, because they want to close, and it requires steady pressure to hold them open. They're also uncomfortable to read in bed when I'm on my side.

So last year after a lot of research and comparing, I bought a spiral binder and never looked back. I already had Fine Print for two-sided printing and resizing. Having used it for a year now, I can say that binding is easy and fast, and being able to flip the pages back around for one-hand book-holding is very nice. The only down-side is that when you put them on a shelf, you cannot read the spine to see what the book is. My daughter came up with a solution for that, and it works, but usually I just leave them as-is. It's also very convenient for making my own custom notebooks and logs. The company in the link above is the one I purchased from, but a lot of places carry that Coil-Mac model.
posted by Katravax at 3:02 PM on May 22, 2007

I used to work at Kinko's and we printed out this kind of thing all the time. You need to bring in a PDF file, even on a USB memory device or disk, and the job itself can take just minutes (that all depends on how backed up they are). Ask for it double-sided to save paper/money.
posted by zardoz at 3:29 AM on May 23, 2007

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