Print Books and Pressbooks

I wrote a post earlier about how I set up my Pressbooks site for the Nasruddin book, knowing that I would forget some of those nitty-gritty details when the second book is ready (about two weeks from now!) and also thinking that the information might be useful to others.

In this post, I'll add some more information based on what I've learned about print books and Pressbooks. My own personal interest is in ebooks and digital distribution, but I know there are people who prefer print books or even depend on them (like my dad, who never learned how to use a smartphone or Kindle, etc., despite my best efforts). So, having a print edition was important to me, and here's what I've learned:

Nasruddin as Amazon Print Book

I knew I wanted to publish my Pressbook in print form for people who wanted that, and I also wanted to do that at the lowest possible price. And here's where I've ended up: a $5.99 Amazon-printed book, with free Prime shipping, so that's a pretty good deal I think.

Pressbooks makes it easy for me to link to the book purchase option too, so if you click on the Buy button at my Pressbooks site for Nasruddin, it goes here to Amazon:

I've ordered a copy which should arrive in a week.

Amazon had a print cost of $3.44 to which they added their royalty, for the $5.99 total; I added no royalty for myself (except a few pennies to round it off to that 99 cents). So, this is as low as the price can go there at Amazon, and with the free Prime shipping, that makes it very affordable I think!

But here's the drawback: for this to work, I had to upgrade at Pressbooks to have the watermark removed from the print-ready-PDF. Amazon rejected my print-ready-PDF that had the Pressbooks watermark (Amazon has a rule: no watermarks), but after I switched to the upgraded/no-watermark PDF, the book went through perfectly.

And hey, I'm so happy with how Pressbooks works that I don't mind paying for this great service. I'm donating my labor on these books after all, so I consider the $80 upgrade to also be a worthwhile donation to the OER cause.

Just as an experiment, though, I tried an alternative: when Amazon rejected my PDF, I decided to try publishing the watermarked PDF at Lulu, and it turned out really good too! So, for people who can't do the Pressbooks upgrade, here's how the Lulu publication experience worked:

Nasruddin as a Lulu Book

I've published books with before; it was always stressful and exhausting to prepare the PDFs on my own, but I learned how to muddle along and ended up with four different Latin books for sale at Lulu (plus I give away the PDFs for free at my Latin blog). I stopped working on Latin about five years ago (long story...), but now I have a new addition to my Lulu books: the Nasruddin book is available in the Lulu Bookstore, and the price came out identical to Amazon: $5.99.

The process is just like at Amazon: you upload the PDF, fill out various webforms, and presto: there's your book!

My copy came today (Lulu, unlike Amazon, makes you review a physical copy before you can put the product in their bookstore), and it looks nice! The watermark is definitely visible, but it's not distracting, and the text is still totally readable. Here's an interior picture I took with my phone camera:

But here's the drawback: no free shipping at Lulu. The cheapest shipping is $3.99, so that turns the $6 book into a $10 book.

So, mainly because of the shipping, I'm going to stick with Amazon for future books in the series. In any case, though, I was really glad to find out that it IS possible to publish a printed book with the watermarked PDF from Pressbooks. That way, people who cannot afford the upgrade at Pressbooks can still make their book available in printed form.

Plus, since the Lulu book arrived this morning, that means I have a print copy to send to my dad, so I wrapped it up as a present and am putting it in the mail to him today. One of the reasons I started writing these 100-word-stories is because of his diminished attention span. I bought him a bunch of 100-word-story books already (he liked the science fiction microfiction the best), and now I have a 100-word-story book to send him written by yours truly. Yay books!

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