After the Ribs: Memorial Day Mail Bag

POSTED ON May 30, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Book Production, Self-Publishing > After the Ribs: Memorial Day Mail Bag

I cooked my 5-hour ribs for a dozen people today. When I sat down at my computer tonight, I had these two questions in my inbox, and I thought I would share them with you:

Question: Must my book start on Page 1? The front matter is 17 pages. Do I start Chapter 1 on page 19, or must it be on Page 1?

Take a look at these two articles:

Self-Publishing Basics: Book Pagination for Fun and Profit

Self-Publishing Basics: An Unabridged List of the Parts of a Book

You have at least two choices with your pagination:

  • Start at number 1. You can simply start your pagination with the first page in the book. This is the simplest form for pagination, and there’s nothing wrong with it. In this scenario your Chapter 1 would start on page 19.
  • Start at number i. You can assign roman numerals to the frontmatter, which is common. This is done so that the frontmatter, which usually arrives later than the rest of the manuscript, doesn’t disturb the pagination of the rest of the book, including the Contents and an Index or List of Tables or Figures. In this scenarion, if your frontmatter ends on page xvii, you Chapter 1 would start on page 1.

Question: I am currently looking at options on where to have the book printed as Blurb is just way too expensive. The book is 8×8.5, 80 pages, full colour, hardcopy. If you have any suggestions on where I can look, I would greatly appreciate it.

The problem here is technology and its effect on pricing. offers a terrific service. They print and bind digital versions of full-color books and make them available for sale one at a time. I really like the Blurb books and use them for prototypes or advance copies for appropriate clients.

But Blurb books are not commercially viable. I don’t know of any digital color book printers that can produce books at a low enough price that they would be suitable to sell with a standard retail markup.

The only way to get the book you’re looking for right now is by printing it offset. This will likely entail:

  1. Hiring a professional designer to create the files for printing
  2. Contracting with a printer or print broker for printing in Asia
  3. Financing a printing that’s likely to cost $5,000 and take about 3 months
  4. Plan on how to distribute, store and ship the books once they arrive by boat

This is not an optimal situation for a first-time publisher. I think that more affordable digital book printing will be coming along in the near future, but from what I know it’s not here yet. Producing photography or art books or any other full color book is a project not to be taken lightly, and a good deal of planning and marketing support need to be part of the project from the beginning.

Hope that helps!

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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