Paige M. Gutenborg: book printing on demand

While in Cambridge last week I stopped into the Harvard Book Store (independently owned and operated at 1256 Mass Ave since 1932) to browse but to also track down a print-on-demand book making machine I had read about. Positioned between the stacks in the right rear of the store I found “Paige M. Gutenborg”, the custom printing machine that can churn out a library-quality paperback in minutes.

If you have a book in you, this might be the way to make it a reality. All you do is submit two PDF files, one for the book’s interior, the other for its cover and the machine pumps out one or more paperback copies for you. You retain all rights, you set the sales price, you do whatever you want with the resulting product. There are many price options but here’s an example for a hypothetical 200 page book that you want stored on their system to allow for the purchase of future copies: Basic cover with color and photo – $20; set-up fee with one free proof copy and unlimited additional copies priced per page – $70 (only $15 for no proof and no storage for future use); for 100+ pages it’s $9 for the first 100 plus $0.02 for each page thereafter, so our 200 page book would cost $11 per book.

Besides self-created books, this printer can also produce out-of-print, out-of-copyright titles for a reasonable fee. So if you have a favorite 19th century title on Google Books, you can have a hard copy of the book at an affordable price.

I believe there are many other publishing options available to would-be authors: there are local publishers such as our own Loom Press, Amazon has its own self-publishing operation, and I’m sure there are many more. The Harvard Book Store provides one more option albeit one you can actually see in operation at a nearby location. It might be worth paying a visit the next time you’re in Cambridge.  

Paige M. Gutenborg - book printing on demand

Harvard Book Store - home of Paige M Gutenborg

6 Responses to Paige M. Gutenborg: book printing on demand

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    Oh, oh, oh how I wish our downtown bookstore in Lowell was even 15% like the Harvard Book Store. This store needs to showcase local authors at the front of the store, have readings and signings at least once a week, host book parties and new book events, start a book readers’ club, discount card for frequent buyers…. I can add twenty more things to this list. Seems everything UML touches these days turns to gold – – how about a downtown bookstore intervention please like was done at the Tsongas Arena?

  2. Nancy P says:

    We attend some of the author events at the Harvard Book Store – the last one was Paul Krugman, We also heard John Lithgow and Madeline Albright. I’d also recommend purchasing your e-book from Harvard Book Store.

  3. SeanT says:

    Did you have Paige print you up anything while you were there Dick?

    Ironically, this print on demand machine is a return in a way to the early days of mass publishing in this country when vendors would go door to door to gather subscriptions for books before they were printed. The biggest downside to those subscriptions (and I imagine Paige’s product) is the production value was sort of flimsy and not many copies withstood the test of time and usage. Though, perfect bound paperbacks aren’t much better in terms of archival quality.

  4. Bob Forrant says:

    Maybe if a new bookstore/cafe goes into UMass Lowell Crossing – by the new bridge – it can become a cultural hub of sorts like the Harvard Bookshop. Promote lots more campus authors – so many books published by area faculty all the time -, bring in other authors, poetry reading nights, etc. Its one of the things that is seriously missing as the city becomes more and more home to authors, artists, etc. You can tell this by the large number of people who showed up a couple weeks back for readings at the Old Court. Need a venue that does not serve alcohol for some of this stuff too.

  5. DickH says:

    Sean – I didn’t have a book printed. I had previously read something about the machine and wanted to see it and learn more about it first. Now that I’ve become acquainted, I do plan to have something printed, sort of a trial run. Likely candidates include some of the many 19th century Lowell-produced reports or short histories that populate Google Books. Any suggestions?

    Certainly our culture and practices of reading are changing with the migration to electronic devices and the apparent demise at the hands of Amazon of the same big box book stores that were thought to have killed off small independents a decade ago. I see this “print on demand” technology as a piece of what reading is to become although I’m not yet sure of what that piece is to look like in the end.

    Finally, sign me up in favor of a UML Lowell Crossing bookstore as local cultural mecca.

  6. Steve says:

    With regard to the City Stories at The Old Court, I’d like to thank Jerry Bisantz and the Image Theater once again, because none of this stuff happens without someone working hard to bring it about.