Publishing Frequently Asked Questions

We know the prospect of printing your own book brings to mind a ton of questions. We understand -- publishing is a big deal! Click on one of the links below to take you to that "chapter" of our FAQs, or just read through the whole thing for a full overview. And, as always, email us at if you have any questions we left out.

The Basics (why, what, when, and how much)

The Nitty-Gritty of Printing a Book (submission guidelines, file requirements, formatting advice, trim sizes, paper stocks, design options, etc.)

Other Self-Publishing Miscellany (ISBNs and copyrights and whatnot)

I Want to Print! What Happens Next? (how to make it happen)


THE BASICS (why, what, when, and how much)

What are the benefits of choosing McNally Jackson's Publishing program?

With our Espresso Book Machine we offer unparalleled flexibility, ease, and control, whether you're looking to print an extra copy of your already published work or to publish a new book from scratch. We pride ourselves on our service -- our self-publishing experts, Margaret, Madeleine, and Jacob, are happy to help you with every step of the process. Our set-up fees are reasonable, meaning there is no large up-front investment. If you purchase our Prince Street Self-Publishing Package, our McNally Jackson Self-Publishing Package, our Quill & Leaf Self-Publishing Package or our Print-Ready Professional Printing Package, you have the option to sell your book on consignment at the bookstore, and on our website. And because our books are quite literally print on demand, you have the freedom to alter your book with each successive printing.

What type of book can I print?

The EBM produces perfect-bound paperbacks. This means that they have a glued spine, just like most of the paperbacks on the shelves of our store. The interior pages are black and white and the cover is full-color.

How much do the books cost to print?

Printing costs vary from author to author, depending on the length of your book and which services you’re requesting. Click here to learn more, or contact us to get an estimate for your own project.

Do I receive a discount for larger quantities of books?

Yes. We offer bulk discounts for authors who want to print larger quantities.

Bulk purchase discounts:

50+ copies | 10% off

100+ copies | 15% off

How quickly will my book be produced?

The turn-around time for self-published works depends on the quality of your book files, the size of your order, and the current state of our print roster. We don't make any promises about scheduling until we have your files in hand, and have established that they're print-ready. If we notice any problems with your files, we’ll do our best to help you fix them quickly. If your files are print-ready, then we can usually print a proof copy of your book within 3-4 business days (please note that a proof copy is not available with our Perfect Gift Printing Package). Once you’ve examined your proof copy and are ready to place an order, the approximate time is usually as follows:

Up to 20 copies: 5-7 business days

Up to 75 copies: 7-14 business days

Up to 150 copies: 2 - 3 weeks

Up to 300 copies: 3 – 4 weeks

If you need an order filled by a particular time, please let us know and we’ll do our best to meet your needs. Please give us as much advance notice as possible, and note that the above timeframes are only estimates. Often we can print books more quickly; we just don't like to make promises we can't keep. If your files are print-ready and you need them quickly but our roster is full, we may be able to accomodate you for an extra rush charge.

Do I have to come into the store to print my book and/or pick up my copies?

Not at all. Do you live in Boise? Don't worry, sometimes it happens to the best of us. We can discuss your options via email ( or telephone (212.274.1160). You can submit your files electronically, and we can ship your books to you (shipping rates apply).

How many books do I have to print? How many can I print?

As many or as few as you like – flexible order quantities are one of the EBM’s biggest advantages. There are no minimums, and if you've purchased a package that allows for multiple printings, once you are set up on the machine you can order more copies whenever you’d like.

Can I make changes to my book after I print it?

If you’ve opted for one of our Self-Publishing packages (or our Print-Ready Pro package), we’ll keep your files on the machine and you can submit revisions at any time for $19.

How do I order more copies?

You'll receive a special link to order copies of your book online at any time, or can give us a call at 212.274.1160 between 10am-6pm daily.



THE NITTY-GRITTY OF PRINTING A BOOK (submission guidelines, file requirements, formatting advice, trim sizes, paper stocks, design options, etc.) 

What options do I have for submitting my files?

Most authors submit their files via email. If you plan to come to the store, you can bring them on a USB device. We can also receive files via websites designed for the purpose of file transfer, such as If you're dropping off your files in person, we require that you make an appointment. Please email us for details or to schedule a meeting.

What types of files can I submit?

All files must be submitted as PDFs (PDF stands for Portable Document Format). We cannot print your book from a Word .doc or other word processing program file format. Converting your original files to PDFs is the only way to guarantee that the formatting will remain the same once the files are loaded onto the EBM. Please click here for more details on the necessary specifications for printing.

We do offer PDF conversion for those purchasing our Quill & Leaf Self-Publishing Package, and our Interior Page Design services. In these instances, you will provide us with a Microsoft Word, Open Office, Google doc, or rich text file (unfortunately, we cannot work with WordPerfect files at this time),  which we will place into the design you choose. We then go page by page through your entire book to make sure it looks beautiful, and export your completed page design to a print-ready PDF.

How many pages can my book be?

As short as 40 pages, or as long as 800 pages (some restrictions on trim size apply for longer page counts). For our purposes, a page refers to one PDF page (one PDF page = one book page), not one sheet of paper. There are two book pages to each sheet of paper, one on each side. Your bookblock PDF should be laid out accordingly – there should be no double-page spreads or signatures. See our DIY Formatting Guide for more details.

How do I determine my final page count?

Your final page count will be the total number of pages in your PDF document. Your page count is not limited to the paginated section of your book, but rather includes everything in the document (blank pages, dedications, about the author pages, etc.).

How big can my files be?

The maximum file size that can be uploaded to the EBM is 600 MB. That said, we urge you to make your files as small as you can. Larger files take longer to print, which means it will take longer for us to get your books to you.

Who decides the book layout and format? What’s available?

You do! The EBM does not require pre-determined templates to produce a good book, so your book can look and feel the way you'd like it. Refer to our DIY Formatting Guide to learn about the minimum and maximum size limits. If the idea of figuring it all out on your own seems a bit overwhelming, we do offer some pre-designed covers and page layouts that we can personalize for you; please click here for our available design services. 

How do I determine the finished trim size of my book?

The same answer is true here: we leave it in your hands. There are no pre-set trim sizes for printing on the EBM, so your options are infinitely flexible between the minimum and maximum size limitations. The smallest book we can print is 4.5" x 5" (width x height), and the largest is 8" x 10.5", meaning you can choose any trim size between those two extremes (certain restrictions apply for very very long books; please contact us for details if your book is very very long). Some standard paperback trim sizes are 6" x 9" or 5" x 8". Try browsing a bookshelf to find a size you like.

Can the EBM print photos or illustrations?

Yes, the EBM can print images on the cover and the interior pages. All images will print in black and white on the inside of the book, and color on the cover. The print quality depends on quality of image you use. We recommend images be 300 dpi for the best print quality.

Why can’t I have color pages on the inside of my book?

The printer that produces the interior pages can only print in black and white. At this time we are not able to offer color options for the interior of your book. 

Does the EBM fold the printed pages to produce signatures as part of the binding process?

No, it does not. The EBM prints one book page to each side of 8.5” x 11” sheets of paper (duplex printing). The printed pages are collated accordingly, the resulting bookblock is bound to the cover using glue, and any excess margins are removed when the book is trimmed down to size. It is very entertaining to watch and we recommend making an appointment to see your own book printed before your eyes.

What type of paper stock can I have my interior pages printed on?

Right now we offer two interior stocks, both 60 pound archival quality paper. One is a full bright white, one has a warmer ivory tone. We recommend one or the other for different purposes -- the bright white is often better for photo or design books; the ivory can be easier on the eyes for a novel -- but in the end, the choice is yours.

What type of stock can I have my cover printed on?

We use a .10 mil Photo Paper coverstock with a satin finish and Colorlok technology. This particular stock allows us to produce book covers with high-quality images and bright colors.  We also offer a 100-lb matte coverstock.

I need help with editing & design, can you help?

We offer a wide range of design services; please click here for the complete list. If you'd like a more personalized custom design, we're happy to point you in the direction of some wonderful freelance designers who would love to work with you. We can also direct you to some freelance editors and copyeditors. We do not provide any in-house editing or proofreading services at this time. Please contact us for more details.

How do I create my book files?

Please review our DIY Formatting Guide. If you have further questions specific to your project, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

How do I calculate my spine width?

To calculate your spine width, you’ll need your page count (pages in the document, remember, not paper pages) and the PPI (page per inch) of the paper you’re using. The PPI value for our standard ivory & white papers is 434. The formula for calculating spine width is: number of pages ÷ PPI = spine width in inches (So the spine width for a 250-page book printed on our standard paper would be 250 ÷ 434 = 0.576”)

How do I convert my files to PDFs?

See our DIY Formatting Guide.


SELF-PUBLISHING MISCELLANY (ISBNs and copyrights and whatnot) 

Can I use a pen name?

Go ahead. But please make it something outlandish and fun. There's nothing worse than a mundane secret.

Do I need an ISBN to print my book?

You do not need an ISBN to have your book printed on the EBM, but having one might be useful depending on what you plan to do with your book. If you are printing your work for personal use only, then an ISBN is unnecessary. If you plan to print and sell your book at McNally Jackson, you do not need an ISBN. However, if you plan to sell your book elsewhere (through other stores or websites) then you may need one. 

What is an ISBN?

To learn more about ISBNs, click here

Can I buy an ISBN from McNally Jackson?

Yes, and we're glad you asked. Buying your own ISBN is rather expensive, but because we purchase them in bulk we can offer you an ISBN for your book at a deep discount. You can purchase one through us for $75. (Please note that ISBNs purchased through us can only be used on books printed with us.)

I already have my own ISBN for my book, can I use it?

Sure, if you have some strange aversion to paying for things twice. However, it must be an ISBN you've purchased directly from Bowker, not one purchased through another self-publishing service (just as our ISBNs may only be used on books printed with us, CreateSpace's ISBNs may only be used on books printed with them).

How does my book get added to the Books in Print Database?

If you choose to purchase an ISBN, then you may add your book yourself. Books without ISBNs cannot be added to the Books in Print Database.

Who controls the copyright of my book?

You do. That is one of the great merits of self-publishing. Your work is under U.S. copyright law protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. We do not register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, but you may choose to register your work if you wish. In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. To learn more about U.S. Copyright law, go to

What is a Library of Congress Control Number, and do I need one for my book?

A National Library of Congress control number (LCCN) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. It is not necessary to obtain a LCCN for your book, but it can be helpful if you hope to have your book on library shelves. There are two different types of control numbers - Cataloging In Publication (CIP) and Preassigned Control Number (PCN). Most self-published works are not eligible for a CIP number, but are eligible for a PCN. Visit the Library of Congress website to learn more about CIP and PCN programs: We do not provide Library of Congress Control Numbers at McNally Jackson.

Can I sell my book at McNally Jackson Books?

In most cases, yes, if you've purchased our Quill & Leaf Publishing Package, our Prince Street Self-Publishing Package, our McNally Jackson Self-Publishing Package, or our Print-Ready Professional Printing Package. We're proud to carry many self-published books on consignment, both in the store and on our website (saving you the hassles of post offices and packing tape). When one of our book machine consignment books sells, we keep only the print costs -- unlike other sales channels, we do not collect a consignment fee. Contact us for more information.

Can I sell my book at other retailers?

Yes. We do not require you to sell or print your books exclusively at McNally Jackson. You may make arrangements to sell your book anywhere else you'd like, in stores, on your own website, or thorugh other online retailers.

How is the retail price of my book set?

You set your own retail price. Some authors choose to have this printed on their cover itself, others prefer to leave it off in case they need to charge more or less in different contexts.


I WANT TO PRINT! WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? (how to make it happen)

Should I email you my files?

Yes! If you've read our DIY Formatting Guide and are ready to get started, send them along. We'll get back to you within two business days (often sooner). If your files are ready to go, slotting you in for your proof or your initial copies can usually happen pretty quickly; if we check your files and realize they still need some work, we'll let you know.

I'm not sure my files are ready. Should I email you anyway?

Yes! We are always happy to start a conversation, and to answer any questions you might have while you're preparing your files.

What other options, besides email, do I have for submitting my files?

If you want to come visit us at the store, you can bring them on a USB device, though we do need you to make an appointment with us first to make sure someone from the Publishing department will be around to receive them. We can also receive files via websites designed for purpose of file transfer, such as If you're dropping off your files in person, we require an appointment. Please email us for details or to schedule a meeting.

When is the Publishing department available to answer my questions?

Email is generally the best way to reach us. That address, again, is Our self-publishing experts, Margaret, Madeleine, and Jacob, are usually at the store daily between noon and six (though we have been known to take the occasional day off, so it's always best to make an appointment), and are available for questions over the phone at (212) 274-1160. We strive to answer your emails and phone calls as quickly as possible, but occasionally we're so busy printing books that it may take us a day or two. 

Do I have to make an appointment?

If you’d like to come to the store to discuss your project in person, please make an appointment first. Obviously, if you do not and we are too busy printing to speak with you, you will still be in a bookstore so your trip will not have been wasted, but yes, an appointment is best.


Do you have a question we haven't answered here?

Email us at