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"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Micro Publishing, part II (Mark's Update)

By Mark Nielsen

  1. References
  2. Introduction
  3. Choose your Printer
  4. Choose how you want to fold the paper.
  5. Buy or make your own Book Press.
  6. Choose the type of Glue.
  7. Use the software to make your print outs.
  8. Make your book!
  9. Now, copy your book if you need multiple copies.
  10. Conclusion


  1. Micro Publishing -- article located at Linux Gazette and ZING.


The first document by Rick Holbert is Micro Publishing. This article is an update about Mark's experience making books. Mark has added some of his tips for when he is making books. Mark using a duplex printer, paper folder, and a cheap book press. Mark is using all free software (though Acrobat Reader is not open sourced).

This article will provide several methods for the process that the original Micro Publishing article covered.

Choose your Printer

Please buy a laser printer. It is much nicer to use a duplex printer when making books. I have noticed that the laser printer goes much much faster, and when it comes to really intensive documents, even the laser printer can take a while to print, which on a DeskJet printer would be horrible. If you want the quality, the ease, and duplex capability, get a laser printer. I got a HP Laserjet 4050. Later on, I bought the stupid expensive duplex add-on, which was just a 50 cent piece of plastic that they charge an outrageous amount for. The duplex add-on was a rip-off, but I had to buy it. It cost somewhere around $1,500 for the printer, and a few hundred for the duplex add-on.

Or, use any other printer. A Deskjet will work fine, but it will be a lot slower and you will have to print on the paper twice (once on the back, and once on the front), and the quality of the print won't be as good.

  Choose how you want to fold the paper.

Please buy a paper folder. They cost around $600 or so. I got one from which was a Model 1501 (CV-7) AutoFolder. Please buy one. It gets tedious to fold books.

The only other option is to fold it by hand, which I refused to do, but which Rick did happily. Children are great slaves for folding paper.

Buy or make your own Book Press.

You can make your book press using the steps in the article Micro Publishing or you can buy it on the internet. It is my hope that different designs will come out which will make it easier to build and use book presses. I have some ideas on how to change the current design.

Choose the type of Glue.

Good rubber cement glue is the ultimate preferred method, but it is clumsy to use in my opinion. I have contemplated pouring the stuff into a squeezeable bottle to see if it will be easier to use.

Use the software to make your print outs.

Follow these steps in order to make your book for printing. The first set of steps convert your postscript or pdf documents to a postscript level II document (or level I)  -- which only has to be done if you are using postscript level III fonts or if the process doesn't work out quite right. I have noticed that on some postscript documents I download from the internet, that converting it to pdf and then letting Acrobat convert the pdf document back to a postscript cleans out a lot of mistakes when using "psbook" and "mpage". The second set of steps will create the pdf documents for printing (or postscript). You can use "psnup -2" instead of "mpage -2" in the steps below.
  1. If your document is in postscript format, execute this command,

  2. ps2pdf
    Your document will now be named "DOCUMENT.pdf".
  3. Take DOCUMENT.pdf, and view it in Acrobat Reader for Linux.
  4. Print the document, select postscript level II fonts, and instead of printing to a printer, print to a file and overwrite "". I assume you have a copy of the original elsewhere.
Now, follow these steps. First, the set of steps to using a duplex printer. The second set of steps for a non-duplex printer.
  1. psbook -s4 >
  2. mpage -2 >
  3. ps2pdf
Or to get rid of step 2,
psbook -s4 | mpage -2 >

Now you have both or NEW.pdf. View NEW.pdf in either gv or Acrobat Reader! It will look a little weird since you are printing books. Please remember to set your duplex printer to print on the short edge, and not the long edge.

Now, for the non-duplex printers (most printers), follow the steps in the article Micro Publishing.

  1. mpage -O -b Letter -o >
  2. mpage -E -b Letter -o >
  3. ps2pdf
  4. ps2pdf
Now, what you have to do, which is a pain, is too print one side, then flip it over and print the other file on the other side.

Make your book!

Make your book as described in the original Micro Publishing article.

Now copy your book for multiple copies.

If you need to make multiple copies of a book, print out another copy. If you know you are going to need more, then use a photocopier to make more copies. Printing out postscript files can take a long time, and photocopying can save a lot of time. You might even want to go down to your local office store to make the photocopies or buy a risograph or other tools for making copies in large amounts.

Remember to specify you want double-sided printing at your local office store.


There are several ways to make books. The suggested way is to use a postscript duplex laser printer. If you don't, and you make more than a few of these books, it will be a pain in the butt. It is also suggested that you get a paper folding machine. If you make more than a few of these books, it is a pain to fold the paper, it is tedious, and it is not fun. I personally think churches, libraries, and non-profit companies could benefit from a process like this. Just make the final product professional looking, and everything is okay.

Several people have also told us of cheap places, which will make books for you, that can be cheaper than making the books yourself. This is true. But ....

  1. If you want to make it now, it is much easier to do it immediately when you have your own setup.
  2. If you just want a few copies because they change all the time, making the books yourself can be nice.
  3. Not everyone in the US is located near a place that can make books for you.
  4. It is just cool to be able to make your own books.
Personally, I, Mark, hate to be dependent on other companies. I try to be independent as much as possible, and so, I will be making my own books anyways.

I truly hope people will band together to make their own books so that the technology behind it gets cheaper, faster, and easier to manage. People with better ideas will come along, and make the process better. In short, get involved in the free software movement and the free documentation movement.

I will most likely post another update in the next 6 months. I want to

  1. Get better Glue.
  2. Find a cheap way to have a good-looking book cover (laminated).
  3. Develop a better book press.
  4. Find a way to cut down the fonts on the books and to reduce the overall size of the pdf documents without using commercial software, but free software.  I recently saw a Perl Module which might help out with this. If you can get the source code for documentation in Tex or LaTex, it makes the process easier and the fonts are usually pretty good.
  5. Be able to make at least one book every 10 minutes.

Mark works as a computer guy at The Computer Underground and also at ZING and also at (soon).

Copyright © 2000, Mark Nielsen
Published in Issue 56 of Linux Gazette, August 2000

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