In 1988, the family of three printed their first edition of a book in an antique shop in Manchester.
“We started as a hobby,” says Mary Lou Gaudry.
“It wasn’t until we went out to the library that we really realised how important that was.”
The three were inspired by a story that came to them from a friend, an aunt, a relative and a fellow printer in Manchester, who all shared the same love for books.
“It was so funny to see how many copies of a novel we were making and how many books we were trying to get printed,” Mary Lou recalls.
“So we started making our own.
And we’ve done it ever since.
It’s been such a positive thing to do.”
But now the Gaudrys have a global presence and a thriving online business that has grown to include printing books for nearly 50 publishers.
They have printed about 150,000 books and have sold over 2.7 million.
“A lot of times, the first book that people have is the one that’s the most difficult to get,” says Lucy.
“And it can be hard to get that first book, so you start printing lots of things that people want to buy.”
“So what we want to do is print books that people are happy with,” says Emma, “so people can read them and enjoy them and they’ll feel like they’ve got something worthwhile to read.”
But they have also created an audience.
In addition to selling books, the Gaudi family have published more than 20 children’s books, a number that has led to a cult following.
“I’ve read to five or six children at a time,” says James.
“Our first book sold two, so that’s pretty good.”
In 2017, the book that inspired the Gaudioys’ family to print their first printing was The Girl Who Sold Her Heart.
A few years later, the second printing sold more than 10,000 copies.
“We have been making books and they’ve been selling very well,” says Jim.
“That was one of our big successes, but it’s a very slow process.
It took about five years for us to start making our third printing.
It was very much a learning process for us, and then we got really good at it.”
The Gaudreys’ online business was created with a small team, but has grown rapidly since they started printing.
“In a way, it’s been like a second printing,” says Madeline.
“Every single one of us has been doing it for many years, but I’m very proud of how quickly it has grown.”
The business has been very profitable, with revenues growing by a further 3.7% to $6.2 million in 2017.
“The money we’re making is a very, very, small percentage of the revenues of the business,” says Tom.
“But the business has also been very rewarding.”
But the family’s growth has also coincided with a dramatic change in the way children are learning about books.
“Children today are learning a lot more about the history of books,” says Lou.
“They’re learning about the print process, and that they can print books on their own, and they can even print them at home.”
“They’re also learning that it’s OK to share and that it is OK to take books home with you, so they can learn more about how they can be used and how they could be used,” she adds.
But the book industry is not the only industry that has been changing, says Emma.
“This is the first generation of children who have really, really learned about the importance of books and how much they are worth,” she says.
“All of us have grown up with books.
And it’s really important that kids are learning that.
And I think that’s really been the driving force behind the whole business.””
We love books and we love reading books,” adds Jim.