In the 3 or 6 or whatever months I had an Etsy shop (featuring the books), I raked in a grand total of one "like" from a random user. That's it. When the listings expired I let them expire. I think it's actually probably harder to sell things like handmade books on Etsy, where there's a plethora, that it would be at local crafts fairs and similar artisan, in-person events.
I bolded in person because I suspect seeing products for real, and being near them for real and then walking away from them for real, not to mention being able to pick them up, leaf through them, in general touch and experience the products, is going to give the average vendor more sales than having an online shop will. I think you make a connection at a fair with the vendors that are there and those products - instead of on Etsy where there are literally dozens of pages of hand made books.
I definitely noted that "hand made books" on sale on Etsy....aren't always really verifiably hand made, at least not by whoever was posting them for sale, and are often super cheap. I kind of wonder if some unscrupulous people buy bulk batches of handmade books from India and China and mark them up on places like Etsy, basically using people's perception that Etsy is full of real handmade people and goods in order to add a certain aura to their products and sell them at a steep profit.
Can't prove any of that though.
I've gotten better at making books in volume just with practice, and also I realized that you make a lot more books more quickly if you mass-produce whatever you need at each step. For instance, when I'm folding paper for pages, I just fold until I'm out of paper - not until I hit some # I need for a specific project. Because damn, if folded and pressed signatures aren't my major limiting agent in book production, or what. (They are - it's because it's the most boring of the steps, probably. But I get by with folding them while TV-watching.)
My cloth covers are all recycled clothes and my collages are all free magazines. I have managed to source a quality book board cardboard on Amazon for real cheap, and oh - i steal all the actual paper in my books - so besides the initial struggles of getting the really right materials, honestly, book binding has been pretty cheap for me. Of course, that's if you're not trying to calculate for time and a profit in there, either.
I figure, I can worry how many hours each book takes and what I should be paid and all of that - the invisible expenses of making product - later. Like, waaaay later. Like let me sell a god damn book to a person later. And then maybe 5 or 10 more, before I even start worrying about it. I just charged a rough figure for the Etsy listings, but honestly there was no way I could compete with $5 handmade books at a loser price without bleeding money.
I haven't actually used spray adhesive yet, it's on my wish list, but I've seen a few blogs that seem to like it a lot - in the right application, of course.