The Book Patch is a website which allows authors to self-publish their work. I migrated from the better known Lulu.com to TBP at the last minute. Lulu had been, at best, a difficult site to work with, but a lot of people used them, and the end product looked nice (in color, at least - b&w, not so much).
And then, I went to set the retail price for my 78-page book of poetry and art, and discovered that to see even a few dollars profit, I'd have to set the retail price at a minimum of $27.00! I decided that was ridiculous. Who was going to pay that?
A few months before this, Ruth had suggested a site called TheBookPatch to me. I'd taken a look and signed up, but I hadn't done anything beyond setting up a profile and skimming through their FAQ.
On my way back to TBP, I also took a look at Amazon's CreateSpace, but I wasn't all that thrilled with them either. 1) I'd have to redesign my book. They didn't have the book size I was using (but TBP did). 2) Although they had some fairer prices than Lulu, they still took a hit of your profits. Yes, I want to write for the love of writing, but I'd also be beyond thrilled if I could earn a living for myself by doing what I love most: writing. So I went back to TBP.
Three things really sold me on this site. 1) Their printing costs are much lower, even for a full color book. 2) They don't take ANY of your profit. Whatever markup you add to their printing costs is yours! 3) Their print costs may be lower but their print quality is WAY better than Lulu. The paper was heavier and brighter, and the colors were brighter.
Okay, four things. 4) When I ordered from Lulu, even with fast shipping, it took a long time for that book to show up, and they were in the state below mine! TBP is on the other side of the country, but their printing (even that first copy) and ship time, using MEDIA MAIL, no less, way faster.
With TBP, you can upload a ready to go, already layed out, manuscript (as long as it fits with one of their book sizes), or you can write your book directly on their website! Instant (cloud) back-up.
Let's talk about ISBNs. I can't speak for other countries, but if you are an independent author in the US, and you try to go through Bowker's (ISBN agency) on your own, you can expect to spend around $200, give or take, on just ONE ISBN! Most of us don't have that kind of money handy.
TBP has several options for you, the most expensive of which is $50.00. When you go to buy your ISBN through them, you'll get a chance to look over the different options and decide what's best for you. If you're putting together a family history book, for example, and you don't plan to have it available in libraries, large book stores, etc, a cheaper ISBN option may work for you.
Also, you can use that ISBN at TBP, or Amazon, or B&N, or your home printer! Their customer service is really great, too.
TheBookPatch is definitely the friendliest, most flexible self-publishing site I've seen to date, and I've already started my next book with them! This time, I'll be writing directly on their site instead of using a preformatted layout on my computer. Once I know what I'm doing there, I'll write about that experience as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions!