I've researched my fair share of printers, and there are MANY. There are advantages to finding ones in this country [You can communicate! Shipping is ok and usually included in the price!] and advantages to overseas printers. [They do so much more stuff without going >H< at your specs.]
Most of my contacts are in the UK, and actually I have a number of printers depending on the item I print. Each has it's own advantage and disadvantage, and I build up a working relationship with each one.
At the moment, I'm looking into hardback books. Unfortunately all of the printers I use are either too expensive or don't specialize in it. I'm researching both short and long[ish] run printers for different projects. It's a long process. I've just spent weeks trying to work out if I could work with one, and I'm getting to the point of going back to the beginning and having to research other printers.
Ok, as a client, I'm nit-picky, so part of the blame is mine, but having cut down my ideal book printing specs [A4 landscape with a few colour pieces] to A4 portrait just plain black and white [they could only do either the full book mono or full book colour], I'm starting to go with the gut feeling I had at the start about the printer which is- I'm not sure we click.
So, I'm starting to look into more printers and see what is available, and maybe get something that might be able to work with the preferred specs I wanted.
Anyway- you spend a long time doing this sort of research, and it's worthwhile finding ones that work exactly right for you. It's different for each person. Also- it can be frustrating. Be aware of this if you're one of the people [Who I may not know very well at all] who flippantly ask me what printer I use and will I tell them so they can use them.
I'm not kidding, I'm generally holding back the urge to punch you. -H-
I know you're just asking for advice, but from my point of view, you're asking for a shortcut I've spent time looking into and gambled money on... I'd not get anything back from you for doing this. Most people I've talked to about this - NEVER SPEAK TO ME AGAIN. I don't get thanks- I get competition.
All the same- this is what I suggest- look up stuff on the internet- find out the sort of books you would like to make. Google the printers who do them. Spend some time contacting them for estimates [make sure you ask if delivery and VAT are inclusive for any sort of printing, VAT is sort of there or not there depending on the printed item.] and get sample printing sent to you. you'll simply eventually find something that works for what you need.
Anyway- I LOVE making my own books. It's why i spend so much time and effort on it, even though a publisher would take a lot of the work doing this off me. But it's something I'm passionate about, and I feel disappointed if you say you WANT to make books, but you don't spend the energy and time working out how to do it yourself. It's a process I think is necessary to really produce nice stuff.