The book was eventually laid out, but Christmas was fast approaching. I had only a week to get it printed, bound and mailed since not one person it was going to lived in my town (and one was even in a different country). 

As mentioned earlier, I had checked various online printing services, but none could produce the book in time to have it delivered before Christmas, and the prices were outrageous (typically around $100 per book based on the 100 pages I had in mine). So I visited the three major quick printers in Victoria: Fotoprint; Island Blueprint’s Printorium; and Staples Copy Centre. 

I spent my day off looking at the options each offered and getting quotes. The pricing from all three was similar but none could produce a printed hard cover as I had imagined for my book. They could all do a printed soft cover, but I wanted the final book to be similar to an old-style photo album and those have hard covers. 

Suggestions from the print shops were: a) bind with a hard back and a soft clear front (mylar sheet) that showed the title page beneath; or b) bind with a hard front and back, then print a large label to stick on the front. Neither of these was ideal. I was disappointed, and went home to reconsider my options. Again, I got online and searched for a solution. And then I found the solution. I noticed that some of the books produced by online services that were advertised as ‘hard cover didn’t actually have printing on the cover. Instead they had an opening that showed through to words printed inside. 

What if the hard front cover on my book had a cut-out in the middle that showed the words from the title page through the opening? What if the opening in the cover acted as a frame around the book’s title as it appeared on the inside page? But how to accomplish that. Obviously the services were having covers made to their specifications. I couldn’t do that, but I knew I could buy picture-framing mat boards with a cut-out. I went immediately to an art supply store. They had 8 ½ x 11 boards with pre-cut openings on the shelf in black or white. I chose black. Interestingly, they had no solid boards for the back cover on the shelf. They could, however, (for a small fee) cut matching boards for me. I bought a dozen mat boards with cutouts (for the fronts) and a dozen without cutouts (for the backs) as I planned to have 12 books printed.

The next step was to re-design the title page to ensure the words fit into the mat board opening. At this point I should have had the whole book proofed and copy-edited, but I had run out of time. During the few days between completion and printing, I had a friend do a quick proof of the book. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for a full copy-edit, and I have since found numerous typos and mistakes. As it was, by the time the writing and layout were completed, it was the Friday before Christmas, which was the following Thursday (this was 2014). 

Then, because the local business quick print shops are closed on the weekend, my choice of printer was decided for me: Staples it was. On Friday evening, I saved the file as a high-resolution PDF (150 MB), copied it to a flash drive and took it to Staples along with the pre-purchased mat board covers — thank goodness Staples is open until 9 pm most nights. 

The Staples copy clerk was reluctant to promise successful spiral binding with the hard mat boards, but I knew it was possible. I had to sign a waiver acknowledging that if something went wrong during the binding process, the shop was not responsible for damage to my supplied covers nor to the pages they were printing for binding.

True to form, Staples came through for me (they have never let me down but neither have the other quick printers for that matter).

Continued in Part 5: Results