Printing books

There are three main ways to get books printed:

  • By hand
  • Commercial Printing
  • Order from us

By hand

Printing books by hand is the easiest and quickest way to get a book into the hands of kids. The quality is surprisingly good using even the most basic inkjet printer on draft mode and goes way up with higher quality paper and higher quality print mode on the printer.

The easiest starting place is a simple staple book, a book where each page of the book is printed on its own piece of paper and the entire book is stapled on the left edge. These books come out looking fairly good, they are easy to flip through, they’re not so durable but are an easy way to get started. The pdf’s on the site are set up for this kind of printing, where each book page is a single pdf page. Print the whole book, cut the pages down to size if you want to, staple it together and you’re good to go.

Paper cutter and offset stapler

The next level of printing is making a booklet. In order to make a booklet, you’ll need to use a special program called a booklet maker and legal paper (8.5″ x 14″). The trick for booklet printing is that the pages aren’t printed in order, they’re printed in a special order that works once they’re folded and printed front and back. You don’t need a printer that can print on both sides (most printers won’t do that for legal size paper anyway), you can print a page, put it back in the paper source tray and have the printer print the other side. This can take a while and takes some practice to get quick at it, but with a bit of work, you can make very nice looking booklets. If you buy some heavier grade paper for the cover, the books come out looking a lot like commercially produced books and are reasonably sturdy.

Download a booklet creator program ( and when you run it, pick the PDF you’d like to turn into a booklet. It saves a copy of the PDF with the pages in the right order to be printed by hand. Each page is setup so that the booklet will work if each even page is printed on the backside of the preceding odd page (e.g. print page 1, put the paper back in and print page 2 on the back; do that for every page). When you put the book together, start with page 1 on top, then 3, 5 and 7 if there is one. Fold the book width-wise, trim the paper using scissors or a paper cutter and if you have access to one, use an offset stapler to staple the books along the fold in the middle.

After a while printing books this way can get fairly fast and printing/assembling books for a class of 25 students can be done in less than an hour with a single person.

Commercial Printing

The pdf’s on the site are set up for web-based viewing. The two big issues for commercial printing are the quality of the photos and the way color information is represented. Most computers use red, green and blue (rgb) to make the range of colors you see on a screen, but commercial printers use cyan, magenta, yellow and black (cmyk). The difference isn’t huge, but most commercial printers require cmyk original media in order to print. Additionally, the copies of our books we send to the printer have much higher resolution photos than the ones we have available on the web. We keep copies of the latest versions of our ready to print PDF’s in a dropbox folder. If you would like access, please let me know and I can invite you to the folder and you can download the books.

We have worked with psprint for all of our books ( The quality has been great and the price is better than anything else we’ve found, but the main trick is, you have to be able to order a large number of books in order to make it work price-wise. If you print 25 books, it costs around $2.50/book. If you print 500, it’s about .72. If you print 1000, it’s down to just over .40/book.

Order from us

More often than not we have copies of all our books that we’ve had printed for us and we can send them to you. We don’t “sell” the books because the books are covered by the Creative Commons License and the photos can’t be used commercially. But if you pay for the printing costs of the books and the shipping and a minimal handling charge, we can send you anything you’d like to see. Most of our books are from runs of 500, so our print cost is usually .75/book.

If you’re new to Mustard Seed Books, register on the website, send us $5 and we’ll send you a sampler set of ten books covering a range of levels and genres for you to check out. We’re not currently set up to handle all this online (we’ll get there eventually), so if you’d like us to send you books, send me an e-mail and we can work out the details.