I have a friend who has written a series of great nursery rhymes. I would like to put these rhymes into a book as a gift for my friend, but I don't want to give up my friend's first publication rights. Is there a service I could use — perhaps like one of those photo publishing books or something along those lines — where I could get the rhymes in a bound book form but without it being considered publication?

  • 1
    Using a photo publishing service should be fine - I can't imagine that that'd count as publication, or that you're giving up any rights on the content (though obviously check the EULA). I'll have to look around for sources, though.
    – Standback
    Feb 15, 2012 at 14:19
  • You could also go the craft route: Bind them into a book by hand. Feb 15, 2012 at 16:36
  • @NeilFein - it's a good idea, but one that I currently have neither time nor tools for, sadly.
    – justkt
    Feb 15, 2012 at 17:03

2 Answers 2


If you have art to go with these nursery rhymes, then I'd say go the photobook route already mentioned.

If not, check out using Amazon's Create Space. It's their print on demand service, that people can use to self publish. However, there's nothing saying that you have to offer it for sale -- you can set it up in Create Space, and print out a grand total of one, and have it shipped to you. And it'll only cost you a few bucks for the printing.

Another option may be a place that has an Espresso Book Machine, if there's one near you. The espresso book machine prints out library quality books (paper back), in a matter of minutes, on demand. It's like a giant copier but better. I say "may" because whoever owns it near you may not offer it for people to print their own stuff. The one near me does, and also offers help laying it out and making a cover on a per-hour fee basis. (it does have to be laid out exactly)

Finally, on Neil Fien's excellent idea in the comments of crafting the book by hand. You may not have the time or the tools to do that, but art or graphic design students at a nearby university do. I'm guessing you could commission one of them to do it for a couple hundred bucks, and get something pretty sweet if you make it clear you're commissioning an artwork, not asking them to slap some pages together. It gets even better if it's hand-lettered, not printed.

To track that down, I'd suggest find some classes on binding, materials (paper), or on fonts, and ask the professors for recommendations. Heck, if you're loaded and willing to spend the money, I bet you could get one of the professors would do it.

The more I think about it, the more I like the hand-crafted, hand-lettered idea. That would be a stunning gift!

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    Every year I print my personal daily planner with Create Space. Basically a calendar and personal phone book. I order three copies -- one for me, one for my son, and a spare. I never release it for publication. It costs me about twenty bucks. I used to print them on my home printer and bind them by hand, but Create Space is way less work and much better quality when it's done.
    – Jay
    Feb 14, 2013 at 22:09
  • That's an awesome idea. I've actually never seen a book printed by create space, as far as I know. How would you rate the quality of what they print for you compared to a similar kind of book from a store (printed by offset printing)? Particularly the cover?
    – Patches
    Feb 15, 2013 at 16:40
  • I think you would have to study it very closely to tell the difference. The inside pages I see no difference at all. The cover appears to be a laminate laid down on card stock, so if you abuse it the printed surface can peel at the edges. Some writers complain about this but I think it's a trivial issue. Lots of paperback book covers don't stand up to abuse -- these just fall apart in a different way. You probably have books that were printed using similar technology and don't know it: Ingram, a major book distributor, sometimes uses similar equipment when demand exceeds expectations.
    – Jay
    Feb 15, 2013 at 19:21
  • @Jay Thanks! It's too bad they can't do other covers, but considering their price point & on-demand, I can't complain. :)
    – Patches
    Feb 19, 2013 at 22:04

Is the purpose of doing this for your friend to see their words "in print", or for them to see that someone considers them good? (i.e., you.) Or perhaps it's something else entirely.

Whichever option you choose, you'll have to get the rhymes in shape for printing/publication, if they aren't already. There's no need to hire an editor, not with a print run of one, but I would do some careful proofreading.

However, print runs of nursery rhymes will include illustrations as a matter of course. If you want to simulate a print run, you'll want to do these as well.

You have a few options:

Get the rhymes into bound book form, using a short-run print service.

  • Advantages: Less work on your part. Will look professional.
  • Disadvantages: Need to check services' terms of use. Expensive. Need to prepare manuscript, get illustrations and layout done.

Do a craft-style "printing" of the book.

This would be where you get a scrapbook from a crafts store, and use it to hold the pages. Call it a "mockup" of the book.

  • Advantages: Realistically, there are no copyright or terms-of-use issues. Cheaper than a print-on-demand book.
  • Disadvantages: Will look home-made, although that can be charming. Slightly more work on your part than bringing the whole thing to a printer - will take the most time of these options. Need to prepare manuscript, get illustrations and layout done (but less tightly than with the first option.)

Do a framed print of one of the rhymes.

This is the simplest way to handle this. Pick one of the rhymes, have it illustrated or decorated, and print it out nicely and put it in a frame.

  • Advantages: Less work overall. Will look home-made but, here, I think this is an advantage. Realistically, there are no copyright or terms-of-use issues. The cheapest option of all.
  • Disadvantages: Less extensive than doing the whole book. You need to pick just one rhyme. (Or is that an advantage?)
  • Good question on the purpose. The purpose is to have all the rhymes in one place for my friend to be able to read to said friend's kids, since right now they aren't, and ideally make it cute. But at the same time since I do think they are good I wouldn't want to mess with my efforts to get my friend to polish them up and shop them around.
    – justkt
    Feb 15, 2012 at 17:33

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