Print-on-demand has changed that. Digital printing has made it possible to print a single book, or a few, at a modest cost. The printer does not print a book until he receives an order for it. The price per book is fixed (although there are discounts for volume). Unit cost is somewhat higher than with traditional offset printing but the average cost of the total order is dramatically lower for small print runs because there is no minimum order.
What is particularly desirable for a cost conscious family history author is that she can complete her book, submit it to an on-demand printer and let each family member or friend know that they can purchase their copy of the book directly from the printer. The author no longer faces the prospect of paying the entire cost of printing the book.
Authors can make choices that further control the cost of their book. Hardback or softcover? How many photos or other illustrations? Full color or black-and-white?
Print-on-demand makes it possible for families to publish histories, journals, diaries, and photo books by distributing the printing costs among all of the intended recipients.