In a perfect world all our carpools would run on time, no backpacks would be left on the back seat, construction zones would open as we approached them, and our children would be grateful and respectful at all times.
Of course, in a perfect world all our work would come in right on schedule. Editors would never get sick. Layout artists would have no computer problems. And authors would never ever change their minds after they had approved the page proofs of their book.
But alas, the world is not perfect quite yet. Sometimes you’ve planned to launch your book and the last two weeks were really tough, and you lose a day here, another day there. It happens. What can you do? But the local book store which has graciously scheduled you for a book launch party, or the restaurant you’ve booked is ready and waiting, and you don’t have any books.
Ready to solve your problems is the web-based digital printer, 48HrBooks.com. Located in Akron, Ohio, 48HrBooks.com does one thing, and it does it well: it will proof, print and ship your short run of perfect-bound books in—you guessed it—48 hours.
A Valuable Vendor for Self-Publishers
First, understand that 48HrBooks is a digital printer. This company is not a print on demand provider, because they don’t do any distribution. They print softcover, casebound and spiral coil-bound books. That’s it. But because they can print good quality books faster than anyone else, they are a terrific resource to have available.
About half of my recent clients have used 48HrBooks for proof copies or for Advance Review or Advance Reader copies. I’ve been impressed with their quality, and all my clients have reported good experiences working with the company and real gratitude about getting books quickly to help with schedules that can’t be changed.
Simplicity that Works
48HrBooks has none of the sophistication of sites like Lulu.com or Blurb.com, with their book-making software, cover creators, and sophisticated video tutorials. But that’s part of its charm. It gets right to the point and answers your questions.
Their website provides detailed step-by-step instructions about how their process works. They stick to 4 basic sizes of books, although they will print other trim sizes as well. They will help you get an ISBN and bacode for no extra charge (you still have to pay for the ISBN, the assistance is free).
48HrBooks also offers extra services for those in need:
- Printed Proof ($40) Books are proofed in PDF format sent to you in email, but if you need a printed copy instead, they’ll send you one.
- Re-formatting your files ($75 minimum) If you don’t know how to re-format your files to fit a book page, 48HrBooks will do it for you.
- Converting files to PDF ($50) Can’t figure out how to use their free PDF converter? Don’t have a Macintosh, with built-in PDF conversion? $50 solves your problem.
- Cover design ($100 or $500) I think you can safely skip the truly dreadful $100 “Create-A-Cover!” feature, but they will assign an actual human to do a custom cover design for you for $500.
One of the best things about the 48HrBooks website is the help it provides. Page after page of simple, practical information on every aspect of their book printing. Photos of different kinds of bindings. Step-by-step instructions for just about everything. There’s no fluff here, just what you need.
Freebies Too: Templates and Instructions
Here’s where 48HrBooks might be of help to other kinds of authors. They provide free downloadable templates for Microsoft Word, along with a unique set of instructions. Why unique? They provide instructions for three levels of users in the one download: Expert, Novice, and Just Getting Started.
As you might expect, the templates will produce something book-like, although you may be disappointed with the results. Here’s an example of the 5.5″ x 8.5″ template.
I wouldn’t hesitate to send someone here to produce a book for their own use, but I wouldn’t imply they would get a professional looking book.
But my clients use the PDF files I prepare for them, and they print beautifully at 48HrBooks.
And Here’s the Downside
It only stands to reason that books from this vendor will be more expensive than others—that’s the premium we put on speed. 48HrBooks makes it rediculously easy to get a price for your book, with a simple pricing widget right on their home page. They know that’s one of the first thing you want to know, and their approach shows how focused this company is on pleasing its clients.
25 copies (the minimum order) of the book I use for comparisons, a 5.5″ x 8.5″ softcover with 200 pages, will cost $9.05 each. At 100 copies, the unit cost drops to $5.45. For comparison, this same book from Lightning Source would cost $3.50, with no minimum order. That’s about 62% less.
Since this is a one-time cost, most clients are happy to pay it in order to get their proofs so fast.
Takeaway: When you need 25 or more books in a hurry, you can’t do much better than the simple, customer-focused services of 48HrBooks.com.