With magazine printing, unlike most other forms of printing, your product is based on, among other things, the cost per page of the magazine. The reason for this, is that you are selling advertising and need not just the best price per page but a consistent cost, so that your advertising rates are accurate and each page brings you in a profit.
Understand your per page cost. With magazine printing this factor is crucial and things can either boost or lower your cost of production based on the specifications you seek. The things that can affect your final production cost are size, page count and paper stock.
1- PAGE COUNT: There is a reason why you see certain consistent things in most magazines. Page count is based upon not just how many ads you can sell or how much content you have, but on how the magazine runs on press. It is most cost effective to run full signatures as an extra four pages can cost you almost as much as the next 16. 12 pages can sometimes cost more than 16 depending on the press. Run complete forms for the best per page cost to you.
2- SIZE: Size does matter. Be efficient by getting the highest page yield from the press signature. On a web press, which has less choice of paper rolls than a sheet fed press in order to accommodate a variety of sizes, page yield is crucial. A standard 8 3/8 x 10 7/8” page can yield 16 pages to a signature and a “digest” size (half page), 32. Any odd sizes much larger or in between, will yield less pages per signature thus boosting your cost per page.
3- PAPER: With low quantities in magazine printing, paper cost is less important, but with high quantity runs, the average cost of paper is half the total cost of your run. This is why you see mass run magazines using paper as thin as 32# gloss book and as low as a grade 5 with the most wood pulp in it for cost.
4- COVER: The cover is another item in magazine printing that can increase or not the cost of your publication. If you are running perfect signatures, all on the same paper and at least 45 pound weight for mailing, you are saving money over having to run a separate four page signature at press for a cover of different weight than the text.
Another important factor that can help you decide on how much production cost to incur, for example in choosing paper grades and weights, is to understand your business model. Define who your potential readership is and what your competitors are offering them. If you are printing magazines about carpenter tools, do you need as heavy a stock or as good a grade for your publication as if you were selling wedding gowns, where the pocket books is not as closely guarded?
If your magazine is a direct mail piece, than understand your mailing costs. The initial bulk rate pricing is based on a weight of 3.3 ounces. Over that you move to the next level on the postage scale, so is your full color magazine over that weight or not and if so how many levels of price bumps are you over it. Controlling your postage costs can be done by choosing the correct paper weight for your publication. The lower the poundage, the lower the weight of the publication and potentially the lower your postage costs. Also if on a web press, and they offer mail processing services, note that it is much less expensive to have the web press do the mail processing as it the addressing and postage permit are added inline during the bindery process.