print a book


This is where you want to be for the absolute best pricing. The problem is that you must commit to minimum runs and page counts in order to rationally utilize a press the size of a freight train. The smallest run we consider on web would be 500 books with at least 80 pages, at a “trade paperback” size of 5 3/8 X 8 3/8”, in order to make it cost effective. To my knowledge, most other book printers would not start that low, and probably would consider printing a book starting with 1,000 or more. Generally speaking, unless you have screens in your file (dots from images or illustrations or even gradations), web printing is the standard in book printing with sufficient quantity. However if you do have screens, web usually has a lower line screen on the press and if this is important you may want to consider sheet fed printing from your book printer. One of the nice things about web printing, is that since much of your cost is in set ups, the run pricing gets cheaper quickly as you print more. If you have the demand that will allow you to print a book in higher quantities do so.


Digital printing is almost a misnomer in that most modern presses today could be described as digital. In this respect digital would mean, “direct to plate” or filmless, where a digital RIP, is processing the files and the plates are burned via laser. This of course gives less distortion and better registration due to the lack of film. However, for the purpose of the discussion here, I shall refer to “digital printing” as pure digital, from RIP to paper, which is both filmless and plateless in book printing or otherwise. Most book printers use one version or another of the Docutech from Xerox, or the similar machine from Canon. They generally run 20# bond, which is the same as 50# offset. Two book printing tips I can share with you for your book printing experience that will help you with costs:

  • Use the 20#/50# as in sheeted paper, due to competing pricing from retail chains such as Staples or Office Max,  where 20# bond is not only cheap, but used as a “loss leader” to bring in people to the stores. Thus there is about a 30% gap on the price differential between 20#/50#  from 60# offset. Not so on a web printing press.
  • The other tip is to size your book so it can print two up same page on an 8.5 x 11” standard Docutech sheet. This way you get two books printed for the price of one, as Xerox and Cannon, two of the largest manufactures of Laser Digital presses, charge a click charge for the minimal page size of 8.5 x 11”, so you may as well get a “twofer”, but you will need to set up your print files accordingly.


While there are those companies such as Lulu who have put together a nice entry level, super short run package, most large book printing companies will not try and compete with such a low margin for so few books. However, when you start judging your unit pricing to print a book, you will think twice about printing books as one, two or three copies at a time. With respect to all the other packaged services, they too can be found with ease when you Google them. So, my advice would be to put print a book with your own package together and save.

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