For some time I have been trying to write a novel.Then I did.Now I want to print it.

The problem is being an extremely DIY guy I want to print it from my home and also because there are no options available.I know the task is daunting.Finding materials and preparing and finishing the whole project is tremendous work,but none the less I want to do it.

Paper: While searching the web for paper I found this link What binding and paper should be used on a self-printed novel? ,and I am here. Now in my country paper standards are in another language,so me not having sufficient knowledge can't convey to dealer the terms 20# 70-80 bright etc. to find the right paper.What I did was took a novel with paper type which I like and showed them and got almost similar papers.

Print: I know the advise about getting it done from local press is the best,but again in my country, that will be extremely expensive.So I will have to make do with a desktop printer.

That's the advise I need.Which printer to choose? I already have a cheap laser printer.I can make a little budget and look for a specialized printer if it's available here upon your suggestion.

Bind: I will do all the 40 copies my self.I will figure it out later.

So for now Advise away.

  • I don't know where you live - is it somewhere that has no access to Createspace or Lightning Source or similar services?
    – Kate S.
    Oct 13, 2015 at 7:23
  • Yep.None of those type of services are available here.
    – Muheeb
    Oct 13, 2015 at 10:04
  • I don't understand how going to a copy shop would be more expensive than using a personal printer. If you are determined to use a personal printer, then using a good quality laser printer would be the obvious option. A lot of money can be saved by learning how to manually refill the cartridge with toner and avoid buying new cartridges.
    – user11233
    Oct 13, 2015 at 12:20
  • Did you already figure out how to go about binding and gluing?
    – Alexander
    Dec 10, 2017 at 8:34

2 Answers 2


I found a great deal of pleasure hand-making my own books back in the 90s, when print-on-demand meant a rubber stamp and the internet was powered by rubbing two sticks together. It’s a labor of love, so I get where you’re coming from. When done right, the end result is often a far more sensual object (did I just say that?) than a book from Createspace or Lulu [Note: I’m not knocking either service, I’ve used them both quite happily].

Book-making is a craft in and of itself, but it can be done. Here are some things to at least get you started.

(By the way, out of respect to people who make handmade books for a living, I should point out that this is not comprehensive, but should get you well on your way to your goal. Also, I've tried to define technical terms below in brackets.).

Think about Double-sided vs Single-sided printing

  • Double-sided. If you’re printing at home on a laser printer (good choice), you’ll make more work for yourself if you print double-sided. Because typically four pages will fit on a single sheet of paper, your layout software will need to have imposition [page re-arrangement] capabilities. A professional printer imposes pages themselves, taking it out of the designer’s hands, but as a home-based bookmaker, you’ll need to carefully figure out what pages go where. Your safest bet is to create a dummy of the book: count how many pages are in your book, divide by four, then fold that many sheets of paper in half, stuff them into signatures [collections of sheets to be bound together], and then hand number each one; disassemble your dummy and you’ll see what pages go where. In your software, rearrange the pages (for example, pages 1 and 8 will be across from each other, and on the reverse side, pages 2 and 7 will be across from each other). Print accordingly. Note: work on a copy of your final layout file in case things get messed up and you have to start over.
  • Single-sided. If you print singled-sided, print two-up spreads (with even inside/outside margins, and the page numbers all in the same position on each page) and then cut down the middle. I used to carefully hand tear five sheets at a time. It gave the right edge a nice deckle that was aesthetically pleasing and people who received the book noticed that before they noticed that pages weren’t printed on both sides.

Once you’ve committed to the above, work on your page layout and binding

  • Margins, measures and leading. I touched on this briefly above, but your decision to print double-sided vs single-sided will affect your page layout. A book that is bound into signatures will likely have uneven margins. This is a design decision and has a large effect on the pleasure people will take in the book. Some books benefit from wide-open outside and bottom margins, others beg for thin outside margins. Ultimately, your margins control the measure [length] of your line and the measure of your line will affect the depth of your leading [line-spacing] and all of these factors will affect how many pages you will be printing.

It will almost certainly cost more to print a beautifully designed book, even from home. Then again, this is where a lot the pleasure comes in. Have fun.


@Fell's given you great data, and I love their artful torn edges touch. In 2003 I input, laid out and stitched a friend's typewritten novel- here's what it taught me:

1) Layout Because I wanted to print two-sided on my home printer, I had to learn about "signatures" the sub-sections of book pages that are sewn together. I'd used PageMaker to compile the book, but had to turn off the text autoflow so I could control each page's layout to my signatures.

I used scrap paper to make a 16-page "signature" of 8 sheets folded in half, then numbered each page as it appeared. This was my model. Each sheet of paper would hold four pages of my book. Print Sheet One held page 1 and page 16 on one side, and page 2 and page 15 on the other. Holding this example and taking it apart made it easier to understand which page faced, or backed, which. I'd also wanted each chapter to begin on the right side, under a photo. Now I had the map. I printed each signature separately, then turned this group of sheets over and printed their other sides.

2) Paper Grain It won't feel like a book if the paper's grain goes the wrong way. If you use my plan to print on both sides of a sheet of rectangular paper and fold it in half, it won't work and here's why-

Standard paper is milled with the grain running down its length. Try tearing a paper in each direction to get a feel for its grain. Pages bend along this grain and turn easily. In your book, (as with mine) this long grain will now run from side to side. The pages will never turn easily because it doesn't bend across the grain.The paper will try to fold along its grain, and the pages of your book will now dimple and sag across the crease instead of arching from it.

Solutions would be to buy a paper where the width is the same size as you want the width of your book to be. The grain is thus correct. Then, have a print shop cut it to the correct height that your book pages should be. This may be wasteful.

Another option is to buy paper already correctly cut for you, and I learned that paper mills offer this and it can be ordered.

Once sewn together, I needed to trim the edges of all the pages where they opened, so the book could be thumbed through easily. Best done at a printer, who has the cutter needed.

I was able to hand-embellish my little book before I sewed it all together and it was a real thrill to see it finished. You'll get an eye for this art of bookbinding from making one of your own. Have fun!

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