I've been looking into publishing options for a little more than a couple of years now.
I started by looking at companies like Outskirts Press where the author buys a package of services.
One thing about those companies is that you don't have to worry about getting your own ISBN#, bar code or Library of Congress #.
Outskirts Press, in particular, offers packages from under $500 dollars to about $1200 I believe.
I have never used them or heard from anyone who has, but I considered them and looked into their services for some time.
I am also not sure how easily they can work with special characters.
I know that when I looked at Kindle for creating a possible ebook, they did not appear to be able to work with special characters or Hebrew characters.
A friend of mine recommended the company that she uses, Lightning Source [Ingram Content Group].
She has been happy with them and for my purposes they seem to be the best choice around.
My reasons include availability. Ingram means that most bookstores will be able to get the books and for a fee of less than $20 dollars a year I can keep a title in print indefinitely (because the books are print on demand). I can also set my own price for the book and keeping my titles inexpensive is one of my top priorities. Submitting my work to a University Press or other prestigious press such as Benjamin Paperbacks would stick my book with a higher price tag than I want and that's if my work was even accepted. Lightning Source also has a fairly inexpensive upload fee. To get an 82 page booklet into their system they gave me a $118 quote.
Next paragraph was added 12-18-11:
They said they would take about $3.75 from each copy I sold, so that let me set my price at $10.95. You set your price when purchasing a bar code, but I would save the barcode and price setting for last so that you know your format and cost is set and will not change. You also have to have an account for them to transfer funds from sales into.
Lightning Source requires that you become your own publisher, so that means $10 dollars at the Court house (County Clerk) to get a DBA.
In Michigan you have to make more than $500 dollars before you have to claim anything for taxes.
You also have to buy your own Barcode ($25 dollars) and your own ISBN# ($125, but if you buy more at one time they get a little cheaper per unit). You have to get your own Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN#), which is free but you have to request it yourself from The Library of Congress.
Lightning Source also has lists of independent companies that specialize in file creation (they also have a file creation guide if your tech savvy enough to figure it out [it's way over my head). Most can work from Word and other common document formats.
I asked for quotes on a 150 page dual language Megileh-Lider from several of the file creation companies and sent along a link to the document in the Spielberg digital library to make sure they could work with the available formats. Most places came back with a $4 to $6 a page quote, but 2 places charged by the hour and one said 2-3 hours at $149 per hour equaling a $400 dollar quote and another said about $60 an hour and it would take 4-6 hours. The $400 quote person said $200 more dollars for a plain black and white cover, but others quoted me similar covers for as low as $50.
I also asked Lightning Source if they would allow titles that ran from right cover to left. They do, and apparently have some Arabic titles that run that way. They did say that the ISBN and barcode would need to stay on the right cover, so they would be ending up on the front cover. I can live with that.
Unfortunately I can't offer any feedback or input on typists or marketing. My target audiences are relatively small and will probably already be looking for materials like those which I hope to create and provide, so marketing is probably not that big of an issue for me.
I am very interested in hearing about similar services with competitive prices and comparable flexibility. I am also willing to try to help anyone interested in using these resources that I've been getting acquainted with.
PS. Update: 12-04-11
I forgot to list some important additional costs: You need to pay copyright application fee ($35 for electronic $50 for paper [See copyright office online]). You also need to figure in cost for 2 copies of your book and shipping/postage to send them to the Library of Congress (they should tell you where to send them when you apply for your LCCN#).
I also found and listed my own Library of Congress Subject Headings, so that I could list them on the inside cover of my book, using this site http://authorities.loc.gov/ .
I just wanted to ammend my above statements.
If you use Lightning Source (Ingram), they will provide you with a bar code too.
I bought my own and they are using that one, but I could have saved $25 bucks here if I had known.
There is a $30 proof copy fee I also forgot to mention.