I'm thrilled to have just signed on to print some actual copies of Cavemen, Monks and Slow Food: A History of Eating Well on the Espresso book machine at Third Place Books, one of my all time favorite bookstores.
Here's how it works: they do design and layout for a very fair fee, and then they print copies of the book on demand. There's no minimum order, in fact, there isn't even a price break for ordering in quantity because they'd rather maintain an ongoing working relationship than have you order too many books and then never come back. I love this kind of business model.
I've published two books with conventional publishers. One is in Tennessee, and they have the books printed in Canada. The other is in California, and they have them printed in China. When I order copies of either book, they also have to be shipped from the publisher in Tennessee or California to my doorstep in Seattle.
This press is six miles from my house. It's part of a commons where I can also shop for books, visit the library and get a cup of coffee while I pick up my books. As someone who is passionate about building local economies, I find this pretty exciting.