Discovered that IngramSpark has a “mass market like” paper, in the weight of 38 lb, which I am going to try. It’s called Groundwood, and when I was pricing it out initially, it looked like I could put out a small (4″x6″) pocket edition of around 120 pages, with “duplex” printing inside the covers, using 38 lb paper, for around ~$3.10 per unit. This seems like an amazing deal.
What I will do for distribution is deactivate distro in Ingram, so that the book does not get pushed out to its commercial partners. Instead, I will set up a product page using “physical goods” option on Gumroad (you can even set regional global shipping rates), and whenever I get orders (which I expect to be infrequent), I will order a single copy shipped direct to the buyer.
A little bit of a manual process, but perhaps there could be some API way of eventually connecting these, so orders by new buyers will automatically trigger the direct shipment from Ingram. Will drop links to all the above into comments later.