If you have a fam­i­ly his­to­ry that you want to pub­lish, there are sev­er­al ways you can do this.

Let’s assume for the moment that you want to pub­lish the book in print for­mat, but you don’t want to become a pub­lish­er or main­tain a lot of inven­to­ry. You want to make the book avail­able to fam­i­ly mem­bers, but you are not mak­ing a career change!

A num­ber of print-on-demand ven­dors can help you, but I am just going to list three:

  • Cre­ate­Space — An Ama­zon com­pa­ny — will allow you to upload book inte­ri­ors and cov­ers in PDF for­mat. Addi­tion­al­ly, they can design the cov­ers for you. The books get an ISBN, basi­cal­ly for free. You have to pay for the print­ing and ship­ping of a hard­copy proof, so that you can ver­i­fy that what they will pro­duce meets your expec­ta­tions. Once you have approved the proof, the book can be made avail­able on, Ama­zon, and even to libraries and phys­i­cal book­stores.
  • Cafe­Press — This is one of the first com­pa­nies in the space. They start­ed off with t‑shirts and mugs, and even­tu­al­ly expand­ed to CDs, DVDs, and books. As with Cre­ate­Space, you upload  PDFs of your con­tent and cov­er, and they print books when some­one orders one. The down­side is that the books are only avail­able from Cafe­Press, and do not have an oppor­tu­ni­ty for wider dis­tri­b­u­tion, but the ini­tial cost is low­er, as you are not required to buy a proof if you are con­fi­dent that what you sent will work.
  • Lulu — This com­pa­ny is a favorite among geneal­o­gy cir­cles. Book titles are only sal­able through their site, though, as with Cafe­Press, you can order a hand­ful (and a dis­count) to sell. Lulu also ships for free if the order is more than $20. One thing that sets Lulu apart is that if you sell a print book at Lulu, as well as an e‑book (which they dis­trib­ute through Apple’s iBook­store), the e‑book is linked from the list­ing for the paper book.

I rec­om­mend that you get a proof of any print-on-demand title that you cre­ate. While each of these is inter­est­ing, for me, Cre­ate­Space is the most inter­est­ing option, because of the range of dis­tri­b­u­tion options open to me from Cre­ate­Space.

I will post more on this top­ic, as well as on how to turn your fam­i­ly his­to­ry into an e‑book that you can either give away for free or sell.