book-stackFastPencil, a startup that shepherds authors through the book-publishing process, launched a product today that will make it dead simple to create books in full color.

The company, which had focused on publishing books like family heirlooms or more text-heavy novels, added a new user interface that’s more intuitive for editing visuals in a book. In FastPencil, authors upload and edit their works entirely on the web.

“It’s like PowerPoint for the page,” said CEO Steve Wilson. “You can customize every single page so it’s perfect for a group cookbook where you have a format with a color picture for every recipe.”

Wilson said the new tools would be ideal for people who want to create comic books, coffee table books or children’s books. The company is also retooling its marketplace, so it’s easier to find works in a specific subject. Once FastPencil authors publish, they can choose to sell copies of their books through Amazon or other retailers.

FastPencil’s not necessarily meant to be the startup that brings out the next blockbuster novel. It instead is looking to democratize book publishing and make it as simple as possible for families or experts in specific fields to create works. The Campbell, California-based company works with print-on-demand publishers so run rates don’t have to be in the thousands like they do in the traditional publishing industry. They’ve brought down costs significantly: a 50-page, letter-sized full color book can cost an author about $12. Hardcover will cost about $5 more.

The company raised $845,000 last December from angel investors and is in the process of pulling together what is planned to be a final round.

“We’re expecting this to be our last,” Wilson said. “We think that profitability will come next year.”

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