Book Printing – Part One
How to go about printing a book is a big decision facing publishers today. Printing can be one of the priciest pieces of the book publishing process and there are a number of options available to authors and publishers.
Today’s post is the first in a series on Book Printing and the pros and cons of some of some of these different options and things that you should consider before making a final decision on how you plan to print your book.
Offset printing is the “traditional” printing process that publishers have been using for years. There are a number of quality offset printers in the US and overseas who work with small presses and do a phenomenal job.
- Cost per unit tends to be less expensive. The higher the quantity, the cheaper the per unit cost
- Turnaround time is in the neighborhood of 5-8 weeks if you print domestically or in Canada
- Offset printers can accommodate a wide variety of trim sizes
- Quality tends to be very, very good if working on a reputable press
- At 1000+ units, this is a very cost-effective option for printing a book
- Offset printers work in color, black and white, hardcover, paperback and can accommodate inserts and other design options such as embossing, foil stamping, etc.
Things to Consider:
- Plan on 1000+ copies to be cost effective
- Up front costs are higher as you are responsible for paying for the entire print run up front
- You must have a warehousing/fulfillment/distribution plan in place prior to going to press. Those books have to be delivered somewhere—we don’t recommend your garage!
- You are committing to 1000+ units. Changes to the cover or interior won’t be made until you reprint—if you get a great endorsement or find a horrific typo, you have to work through that initial print run prior to making changes
- Most publishers lose money on the first print run of their book at 1000+ units because all of the book printing and publishing costs go against that first print run
Prior to committing to any offset printer, it’s important to request sample copies of books that they have printed recently that are similar to yours. It’s perfectly appropriate to request 1-3 samples prior to signing a quote for their book printing services. Make sure you’re getting samples that are in a similar trim size, have the same binding and, if appropriate, have the “pluses” that your book has such as foil or embossing on the cover.
Make sure you have agreed to terms with the printer prior to signing your quote. Depending on the size of your press, you may be required to pay 100% up front, 100% on delivery or be put on 30-day terms before they will start printing books. All offset printers will do a credit check prior to opening an account with you as your print run will likely run in to the thousands of dollars.
Find out what their proof process is and the cost associated with that process. Some offset book printers will do digital proofs only (not recommended) and others will provide digital proofs for the interior and hard copy proofs for the cover and others will provide hard copy proofs for both (recommended). Some printers will work the cost of the proof in to the quote for their book printing services, others charge that out separately.
When printing a book, always take into account shipping. This is charged separately from your per unit printing cost. The printer will likely ask about where the books are being delivered. If there’s no loading dock, extra charges may apply.
Don’t get fooled in to thinking more is better! Just because the cost per unit is cheaper at higher quantities, it’s not always a good idea to print more for less. You have to have a plan for how you are going to sell these books.
*** Printing a Book is the first in our series on Book Printing. ***
Be sure to check out Small Run Book Printing – the second article in the series.
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