Help me make a book?

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I have in the past enjoyed making books. Like, taking paper and binding it together with a cover and everything using glue and string.  It’s a pretty awesome and fun thing. So far I’ve only made blank books, with either completely blank or ruled (lines or grids) paper. Something that would be awesome, that I’ve been thinking about ever since I started this bookmaking thing, would be to do some handmade texts.  Like to print out some stories and bind them up.

This seems like a much more difficult thing. The way most decently made books are done is in what are called ‘signatures.’  There are usually eight pages folded together to make a section that’s then bound together with other sections.  This makes the arrangement of printed pages a little trickier. So you’d have for example pages 1 – 32 in the first signature, with one page having page 1 and 32 on one side, and 2 and 31 on the other side and so on, so the whole section would read straight through when folded in half.

So I guess the main problem is in how to print things out in this weird format, double-sided, with increasing numbering on one side and decreasing numbering on the other side.  I don’t really have a lot of experience with desktop publishing stuff, so maybe I’m missing something obvious.  I’ve looked in, for example, Word and Open Office, but I haven’t found an easy way to format a document like this.  So basically what I’d like to do is take a whole text from say the Gutenberg project, arrange it into signatures in a word processor, print it out on a laser printer and bind it up by hand into a sweet custom volume.  I think this type of thing might even have a market, and if I could whip them out fast enough I could probably sell them.

So does anyone know how to do the formatting part?  I’d be eternally grateful for a walkthrough in something like OpenOffice, if it’s even possible.

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