Printing at MIT Press Bookstore: What You Need to Know

We are now offering custom printing services at the MIT Press Bookstore!

We recently partnered with the MIT Libraries to install an Espresso Book Machine® in our new location on Massachusetts Avenue. The EBM combines several innovative technologies into a single device which, when paired with a printer, can print, glue, and trim a full-color perfect-bound paperback book, complete with a color cover, in about 5 minutes. Bring us your finished work as a *.pdf, and we can turn it into beautifully printed book. We’re hoping this cost-effective print-on-demand capability will enhance our ability to serve the evolving publishing needs of the MIT community.

  • Perfect-bound, soft-cover books are $7.00 + $.03 per page. For example, a 100 page book costs $10.00 per copy, a 200 page book would be $13.00, etc.
  • We can print both full-color covers and interiors.
  • No set-up fees, as long as your book is ready to go!
  • There is no minimum order. We are happy to print 1 copy, or 100 copies for you.
  • You maintain complete control over your design and content, and retain all rights to your work.
  • We can keep your book on our server for up to one year, so you can come back and print more as you need. Alternatively, we can simply upload and print revised files when you want them.
  • We offer a 5% bulk discount for 25+ copies, 10% off 50+ copies, and 15% off 100+.
  • Rush fee: $2 per book.
  • Print on demand orders must be prepaid.
  • All prices are subject to change.
  • Please contact us at for more information, or call (617) 253-5249 to speak with our EBM specialist.

Submission Guide for Authors

To produce your book on the Espresso Book Machine at the MIT Press Bookstore, we’ll need two PDF’s: one file for the cover, and one file for the book interior. Your files should be “print-ready,” meaning that all of your writing, copyediting, and design is finished, and that the PDF’s can be printed exactly as they are. If you are unable to create the print-ready PDF’s yourself, contact us for assistance. We can help with simple fixes, or can provide a list of local freelance editors and designers who are willing to help you with more extensive tasks. Please read on for an overview of requirements for both documents.


Your book’s interior comprises all of the pages except the covers. It should be a single PDF that contains everything that you want included (title page, dedication, contents, main text, appendices, index, etc.). We’ll print the book block at 8.5” x 11” on our Konica Minolta BizHub Press in full-color. The excess paper is then trimmed-off in the final binding stage to produce your book at the desired size.

Book Page Count
Minimum page count: 40 pages
Maximum page count: 800 pages

A page in the context of this guide refers to each individual PDF page in your book block. The actual printed pages will be double-sided, so your physical printed book will require only half as many sheets of paper. (eg. a 420 page book will be printed on 210 sheets of paper).


Book Trim Size
Minimum book trim size: 4.5”w x 5”h
Maximum book trim size (up to 300 pages in length): 8.25”w x 10.5”h

Longer page counts require larger spines, which will reduce your available trim width. If your book is over 300 pages, refer to the list below to find your maximum trim width. Trim height is unaffected by book length.

Page count:     Maximum trim size width x height
Up to 300 pages:         8.25”w x 10.5”h
Up to 400 pages:         7.875”w x 10.5”h

Up to 500 pages:         7.75”w x 10.5”h

Up to 600 pages:         7.6”w x 10.5”h
Up to 700 pages:         7.5”w x 10.5”h
Up to 800 pages:         7.4”w x 10.5”h

Please note that we can’t reverse height and width. The maximum width for a landscape layout up to 300 pages is 8.25”.


Book  Paper Type
We currently offer two paper options for your book’s interior:

  • White: a 50lb. smooth paper that offers excellent readability and color clarity.
  • Cream: a 60lb. option with a bit more texture and elegance.

Book Layout Requirements

The page size of your book block PDF should be the same as the intended trim size for your printed book. For example, if your book will be 6” x 9”, then your PDF should also be 6” x 9”. We can print larger PDF’s to a smaller page size only by trimming the margins (eg. a book block designed at 8.5” x 11” will print at the maximum 8” x 10.5” by trimming .25” off of each side of the document). We can’t resize PDF pages to fit into a smaller format.

Your book’s interior can be printed in full-color. CMYK is preferred for the best results, but RGB will work too.

Format your PDF as individual pages, not page spreads.

Give yourself plenty of margin space. At least 0.5” on all sides is good, 0.75” is better.

We don’t add anything to your book when it is printed…What you see is what you get! For example, if you want the back of your title page to be blank, then you need to include a blank page at that point in your layout.

PDFs without crop marks or registration marks are preferred.

Please embed all fonts when you export to PDF.


Your book’s cover includes everything on the exterior of the book. This includes the back cover, spine, and front cover of your book, designed as a single landscape-oriented PDF. It will be printed in full-color on an 11” x 17” sheet of cover-stock or photo paper by our Epson photo printer. The EBM wraps the cover around your printed book block, glues it in place, and then trims it down to the book’s final size.

Cover PDF Layout Requirements

Your cover PDF should include the back cover + spine + front cover of your book, centered both vertically and horizontally, in a landscape-oriented 11” x 17” PDF document.

The cover can be in full color. CMYK is preferred for the best results, but RGB will work too.

We can’t print on the interior side of the front or back cover.

PDFs without crop marks or registration marks are preferred.

For images that run to the edge of the cover, retain a bleed of at least 0.125” on all sides.

Please embed all fonts when you export to PDF.

Calculating Spine Width

To properly design your cover, you’ll need to know the width of your book’s spine. This will depend upon the thickness of that stack of paper that makes up the inside of your book. To keep the calculation simple, we currently offer two types of paper (with known thicknesses) for your book interior. To determine the width of your book’s spine, divide your page count by the factor listed below:

White paper: [page count] divided by 526 = spine width (in inches)
Cream paper: [page count] divided by 434 = spine width (in inches)

Example: The spine width for a 300 page book printed on our cream paper = 300/434 = 0.691”


Our EBM system can produce books with both full color covers and interiors. Please take special care with your images to insure the best reproduction results. The higher the resolution of your images, the better they’ll look when printed!

All images should be embedded within your PDF’s.

For best results, all images should be at least 300 DPI.

For images that run to the edge of the page, retain a bleed of at least 0.125”.

For best color matching, image color values should be in CMYK.


We will print your book exactly as you’ve designed it. We cannot offer refunds if you are unhappy with your layout after printing.

Low resolution images (less than 300 DPI) will not look as good they do on a screen. Use the highest resolution images available.

We cannot guarantee exact color matching for the cover or interior pages. The printed pages look fantastic, but they might not be precisely what you see on your computer screen.

We may require you to approve a proof copy before running a large print run.


Printing self-published works on the Espresso Book Machine is totally legal, as long as you, the creator, own all of the content. Be careful if you borrow images or graphics from other sources. We’ll require written permission from the copyright holder to print someone else’s copyrighted material on our EBM.

There are also many sources for copyright-free books…those are okay to print too.


If you have questions or are ready to order, Please contact us at, or call (617) 253-5249 to speak with our EBM specialist. We may want to set up an appointment to review your project in more detail. We can accept files sent by email to, or you can bring your book files to the store on a CD or thumb drive. We can also exchange files via Dropbox.

jj v.96