I'll take you back, 14 years ago. I spent a lot of money on buying reprints of old books, newly printed and bound by small publishers, on a variety of social and historical topics, from vampires to Egyptology. Around that time, I bought myself a handheld scanner for importing images into my computer. I also learned of a new project, Project Gutenberg, in which people were converting public-domain books into electronic versions for free on the internet.
I looked at the reprints I'd been buying. I compared what I could do with the handheld scanner with the reprints and Project Gutenberg, and I knew there had to be a way, with this new technology, to cheaply and easily produce small runs of books based on the contents of a diskette.
This idea bumped around in my head for years as I learned more about how this stuff worked. In 1993, things weren't quite ready for what I had in mind, but others were working on it.
"High-speed digital Xerography" is the missing piece I needed. Nowadays, most of the soft-cover books you read are reproduced this way, and companies like CafePress and LuLu are offering on-demand publishing to customers who upload their books.
Now, bring in my wife. For the past few years, she's been collecting writers for her online ventures, and had a magazine project in the works. Book publishing seemed a next logical step.
So, we get the peanut buttery goodness of my quick-and-dirty public domain reprints with the smooth chocolatey writers we've got under our belt, and we have Ephemera Bound Publishing.
Things are still in an early phase... I've done quite a bit of experimenting (hundreds of man-hours) on how to scan in an entire, brittle, century-old book without damaging it and still have high-enough quality for OCR, without spending hours and hours fixing errors (enough time to have just retyped the entire thing). Now that I can do a whole 300-page book in a couple hours, ready for the press, we're putting Ephemera Bound into actual practice.
Our first work, chosen because the book is already falling apart and I could do little new damage to it, is Famous Hussies of History, by Albert Payson Terhune. A collection of magazine articles on influential women of history, it fits nicely into the public domain, has a similar 'feel' to D's projects, and is now our first published book. We'll have our first non-reprint original book up soon, and we've got writers chomping at the bit to have a company like ours publishing their works and marketing them to our expansive customer base.