Q. Can I Print My Own Text and Rebind Along With a Bible?

I received an interesting question from Father Robert Lyons that touches on two of my dreams: (1) using self-publishing technology to print your own text blocks and (2) rebinding supplemental texts under the same cover as a Bible. A lot of people wonder about the practicality of this, so here's the question followed by my attempt at an answer:

Q. I am writing today because I am working on a project to produce a Liturgy book for our local congregation. Heretofore, we have used self-publishing options to produce limited run texts, but we intend to release a complete, bound book that can be used as a one-stop-shop for Daily Prayer and the Eucharistic Liturgy of the Church. On the downside, however, since this is for a small congregation, we cannot afford the royalties to reproduce biblical texts, so I've been looking into having our book bound up with a Bible (we use the NLT). The main problem I am seeing is that we can get a 500 page prayerbook printed for $30 via Lulu, but the paper is so thick that it would seem to be impossible to bind it up with a Bible in one cover that would fall open (or at least lay somewhat open!). On the flipside, I am unaware of self publishing options that offer thinner papers. Do you have any thoughts on how one might approach such a project on a small scale?

Let's start by unpacking the problem a little bit. To pull off a project like this, you need to be able to output a text (in this case the "500 page prayerbook") with the same trim size as an existing Bible text block (in this case an NLT), on sufficiently thin paper to make the width of the finished product realistic. Thanks to the desktop revolution, producing the supplemental text block is no problem, and thanks to digital short run printing, neither is printing it. 

The problem starts when you try to specify paper stock. I'm not well versed in the current state of digital printing, but last time I checked the options were pretty limited. No one offers output on India paper, which means your text block is going to be relatively thick, and it won't combine harmoniously with the pre-existing Bible text block. In addition, most digital short run printing results in a perfect-bound paperback, which is not really suitable for rebinding. The signatures aren't intact to be sewn. 

So before a project like this will be viable, someone will have to offer digital printing on appropriate paper with a sewn binding. I'm not aware of anyone who does. Have any readers come across a suitable service? If so, please share. You'll make a lot of people very happy.

The next step is binding the supplemental text block with the pre-existing one. Finding someone to do that might prove even more challenging. As readers looking for someone to make an interleaved Bible have learned, most rebinders don't seem to be interested in the task -- or if they are, the process is so labor intensive as to make the cost prohibitive. This is why I've largely given up on my dream of having a Bible rebound under the same cover as a selection of doctrinal standards. The only way I know of to do it right is to produce a single text block combining the two, and for that you need the involvement of the translation's publisher. 

I suspect that, given the current state of digital printing, the most elegant solution is to stop where you're at. In other words, keep the prayer book and Bible separate. Adjust the trim size on the former so that it corresponds roughly to the latter, and settle for a side-by-side set. 

Am I right about this? Hard to say. I'd be very interested in hearing what other people think ... especially those of you who have attempted (or just day dreamed about) a similar undertaking.