What does it cost to produce a book?

About $30,000, in the case of Jeff Chu, a Fast Company editor and newly published author: "This is the first time I've run these numbers," Chu writes. "I didn't realize I've spent more than $30,000 on this thing. It hasn't become a best-seller, and who knows if I'll ever get a royalty check? Even after you factor in my advance (after, of course, my agent's cut and those pesky taxes), it's doubtful I'm doing better financially than if I'd just stayed at my day job."