Have you ever heard of Blurb? Or Lulu? How about CreateSpace? They are all "vanity publishers" in the old parlance, where the author pays to have his work published, rather than the publisher paying the author.
There are countless stories of bookstores closing, publishers laying off staff and magazines shuttering, but according to the New York Times, these on-line businesses are doing very well. The old adage says that everyone's got a story to tell, and with the advent of digital printing, it is easy to write and publish your own book.
At Christmas, I used Blurb to publish two books. The first was for my Sunday morning partner-in-crime. It was called Market Mornings, Six Months of Sundays, and was filled with pictures of the seasonal fruits and vegetables we saw and bought at the Farmers' Market, and lots of detailed images of the small and fascinating bits of the produce. For the cover, I took small images of produce, all in the same colour range and put them in neat little rows.
The second book was all about the house on the Eastern Shore, in summer and winter, comparing and contrasting. For the cover, I used two shots from the same spot, of the long driveway. In one, the trees were leafed out and green, and in the other, the trees were bare in the harsh winter light.
The process of designing the book was relatively simple, with the Blurb site providing pre-formatted layouts for photography- or text-based designs. These were limiting at times, and I wished I had more latitude to do what I wanted.
I chose small 7x7 inch books and they both had about 20 pages, including a dedication page and Library of Congress page. I also upgraded to "premium" paper and I was glad I did. Both books were perfect-bound (like a paperback book) and had nice glossy covers. All of the companies offer the ability to sell your books through their sites, but I've decided that these will be very limited editions, one of the Shore book and two of the Market Books.
I just hope I don't see them at the Book Thing anytime soon!