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I've self-published a few things with print-on-demand services (notably Lulu). Now, my partner has written and illustrated a children's picture book, and she's run into a notable stumbling block: each individual illustration (already complete) is intended to cover two full facing pages at once, across the fold. We have numerous picture books at home where this seems pretty standard. However: The print-on-demand services that we've looked at (for example, Lulu), all have a minimum blank gutter width, like 0.5" or so, which would unacceptably break up the artwork.

How can we self-publish a picture book when we need to print it full-bleed, and through the gutter (i.e., no white space in the gutter)?

  • you may have to go through an actual printer and do it yourself rather than use a POD service. – Lauren Ipsum Apr 27 '16 at 10:04
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Consider creating a print-ready PDF for uploading to Lulu.

I'm not an expert on Lulu nor publishing nor PDFs, but I have published a full-width photo book with Lulu a few years ago. I don't recall having any margins to deal with. Some pages were only text, some pages had text and photos, and other pages were full-width photos. In Lulu, I used a 6x9 perfect-bound paperback in full color. Looking back at my materials from years ago, I see that I rendered my book into a PDF file that was 6.25x9.25 so it was a bit bigger than the final book to account for color bleed. Every page in the PDF was exactly one page in the book, so two full facing pages (like you've mentioned) actually caused me to split the photo in half and put one half on one page and the other half on the next page. Yes, it was all put together manually this way and I didn't use any online tools. I would assume that I uploaded the final PDF to Lulu and my book came out as expected.

The knowledge base at Lulu seems pretty robust with lots of tips. There is probably more than one way to do it. Have fun with your book project!

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