Season's greetings all. Partly because it's gift giving season and partly also because it is politically useful in sharing texts and literature, I'm looking into How to produce cheap, but quality pamphlets and books, like for friends, contacts, or comrades. Really anything ranging from short foldable pamphlets up to books of 1-200 pages, basically using whatever can be bought at the store and an average printer. Wanted to ask around this place for any advice or experience on this given it seems up the Rhizzone's alley. I even remember a thread about it but can't find it. Main things I'd want to aim for is like how to make something that will last a good amount of use (durable) and isn't a pain in the ass in terms of reading experience.

Sorry for not a lot of content in this OP, but I plan to post my own experiences in this thread as I get started on it. So we can learn together, unless everyone here is a secret printing genius.
the cheapest option for pamphlets or short books is to print your material on regular printer paper (8.5" x 11" or A4). you print two pages (side-by-side) per face so that you get four virtual pages per one physical page. then you just fold all the pages hamburger-style.

you have two options for ordering the pages. most programs have a "booklet" printing mode where the pages come out nested like the layers of an onion: the outermost sheet has the first two and the last two pages of the book, and the innermost sheet has the middle four pages. after folding the sheets, you nest them together in the appropriate order. you can either leave the sheets loose (anarchists do this to piss you off) or drive a few staples down the fold line using a long reach stapler or a saddle stitch stapler.

for anything more than 80 pages (20 sheets) the fold gets too beefy for the nesting method to work. the alternative is to print the pages in a sequential order and, instead of nesting the hamburger-folded sheets, you stack them. you can probably use a heavy-duty stapler to join the sheets, but i've only tried using hot glue and a simple clamping jig like in this video. even bigger books benefit from drilling holes into and stitching the edge like in this video.

a few years ago i ordered a handful of books off of lulu.com, one of those self-publishing services. here are two of them:

renegade kautsky (104 pages; my favorite page pictured above) was $2.83. history of cpsu(b) (366 extremely boring pages) was $7.28. bulk pricing is cheaper. i chose 6" x 9", 60# cream pages with glossy covers.

most pamphlets are drafted in libreoffice or whatever. for the books pictured above, i wrote a few small programs: one program to scrape html from marxists.org, another to run semi-automated clean-up on the contents, and another to feed them into prince xml (and remove the "non-commercial use" watermarks from the resultant pdf). the intermediate clean-up stage is boring and tedious because marxists.org is full of typos and invalid html. the fun part is writing the stylesheets for refining the typesetting and generating the covers and such.
did you use python for those scripts & can u share the git?
it's just a few throwaway ruby scripts: https://gitlab.com/nearlyoctober/books