You might need a marketing degree to fathom the promotion and publishing choices at Xlibris, though the site's detailed FAQ section clearly explains the fine print. The service's US$300 Advantage package includes printing a paperback version of your masterwork, while the US$13,000 Platinum deal adds marketing help, including an ad in the New York Review of Books' Independent Press Listing. You can set your own book price (for an additional US$249) and even your own royalty rate, although a higher rate also boosts the cover price. Xlibris's options may befuddle some wordsmiths, but business-savvy writers should be able to land a favorable deal.
CafePress.com makes one-offs of all kinds of stuff, including books. You won't get any marketing help here, but you won't pay any up-front fees, either. Simply choose the size and binding, and then upload your manuscript. You set the price, which determines your royalty payment. CafePress.com gets US$10 for each book you sell, so if you set the price at US$15, you make nearly US$5 per sale. CafePress.com's online shop will even sell your book for you. One drawback: The available bindings are best suited for training manuals and photo albums rather than full-length works. The good news is that if your book doesn't sell, you're not out any money.
Tools for building a more perfect Web
You don't have to take the Web as it is. These two sites help you do your own in-browser customizations.
YouTube Remixer: This browser-based applet allows you to quickly add captions, graphics, borders, and transitions to clips you've already uploaded to your YouTube account. To get started, sign in to YouTube, and click Try Remixer. In the My Videos window to the right, you'll see thumbnails of your clips. Drag them into the editing window, and use the drag-and-drop tools to add effects. When you're finished, click Publish. Your original videos remain unchanged, but the edited versions appear on YouTube.
Feed Rinse: This freebie lets you enter your RSS subscription URLs singly, or you can import your OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) file to add them all at once. Then you set up rules for each feed (to block posts that contain a certain objectionable topic or word, for example).