Small Run Book Printing

Book Printing – Part Two

Small run book printing (or short run) is becoming more and more common for self-published authors and traditional publishers alike. Why? It’s more cost-effective and it can decrease the financial risk of a large print run. It also gives publishers far more options in regard to making edits and changes.


Why do Publishers Choose Small Run Book Printing?


1. Many authors print 50-100 ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) 4 months prior to their official release date. These copies are used by a PR firm to pitch long-lead media. They are also used by publishers and authors to secure endorsements prior to the final printing of the book. Generally ARCs have a banner that reads “Advanced Review Copy. Uncorrected Proof. Not For Resale”. Instead of back cover copy, they are likely to list all of the planned PR for the book along with contact information for the publisher, PR firm and Book Distributor.

2. As more and more authors and publishers move to POD (Print on Demand) as a printing, fulfillment and distribution option, they still need review copies to be used for PR, marketing and personal use. Publishers may choose to print these short runs directly with their POD company of choice. Or, they may get better pricing when printing books by working with a digital printer that specializes in cost-effective short runs.

3. We’ve worked with several publishers recently who are choosing to publish their book(s) exclusively as eBooks. We’ve actually seen this work out very well for fiction. However, should the author or publisher choose to work with a book PR or book marketing firm, they will still need hard copy books for review purposes. These can be secured from a digital printer very cost-effectively.


When is Small (or Short) Run Book Printing Appropriate?


1. Generally, you will find a price break at around 500-750 units  or less where a digital short run is more cost-effective than an offset print run.

2. The cost per unit is higher, in general, on short print runs but the overall cost of printing a book tends to be a much lower cash investment than committing to 1000+ units of a title.

3. Short runs give publishers flexibility. If it is a first time author, the publisher may choose to print only 500 copies or less to lower the risk but also allow for a reprint much quicker. Why? The reprint my include the addition of endorsements, quotes and any PR that the author has received during the first months after publication.

4. Short runs are also appropriate if an author/publisher does not have a strong fulfillment and/or book distribution plan in place. The last thing you want to do is end up with 1000+ books in your garage. You can do a short run to self-fulfill to Amazon and sell direct to bookstores and back of room without overrunning your place of business with books.


Whether you choose small run book printing, traditional offset printing or POD, it is vital to compare all of your book printing and publishing options and line them up against your plans for sales, PR and book marketing. These book sales, marketing and book distribution plans will help you come up with an appropriate first print run.


Contact us to learn more about our Professional Book Printing and Publishing Services!


***  Small Run Book Printing is the second post in our book printing series. ***

Be sure to check out Printing A Book – the first article in the series – which discusses the pros and cons of offset printing.


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