keeping book printing costs down

Like any form of printing or manufacturing, you are ultimately in charge of the costs of production. With book printing, the choices you make will affect what you pay. Paper weight, paper quality, book size, page count, signature count, ink colors all play into the final cost of printing your book. The net cost of printing books will be affected by how you make these decisions, so if you are self publishing your own book or just a thrifty book publishing company, then these decisions need to be well thought through by the time you request a book printing quote from your book printer.

Book Text Ink Colors:  

Many people like to see a color other than black as a border or decorative item on the text pages. By doing so you are adding the following costs to your book when web printing it. You add an additional plate to the run, which can cost up to a couple of hundred dollars, an additional ink charge, which can cost about the same and possibly a bit more pre press time. Additionally there may be a larger set up fee for the run itself due to registration or other issues on press.

With digital book printing for the shorter runs (we many times depending upon page size, page count etc. may choose to run on the digital printing press as it may be more cost effective) you have an even wider gap on costs between black only or adding a single color. This is due to the fact that most digital presses are either built to run black only or full process four color book printing. There is not an in-between choice, unless you count the two colors, poorly priced and with much less quality, the Rizzo press.

Paper Weight:

There are two basic papers utilized for the printing of most books and with a slight variance between web printing and digital print (see below). The standard stock for most books is either 50 or 60 pound offset, with 45 pound alt offset (highly refined newsprint) that is a better buy than 50 pound but only available for web printing presses and not digital printing. 70# is recommended for textbooks due to the higher usage by one or more students over time. Remember though, you buy paper buy the weight just as you buy meat at the butcher, by the pound. To keep pricing down keep your paper weight down. With digital book printing due to the fact that we do not buy paper in rolls as web printers do, and buy single sheets of either 8.5 x 11 or 11 x 17 inches, these paper prices are driven down by the heavy use and sale of copy bond of which the standard 20# bond is the exact same paper as 50# offset, unless you are buying Finch or Strathmore and want to see a watermark. Thus there is a 25% difference in the price of 50# vs. 60# for use on a digital press.

Paper Quality and Finish:

Digital must use smooth paper stock due to how the laser toner lays down, while web printers can use vellum or wove. Do not expect to find many varieties of finishes on a web press. While there are a few eclectic papers, your cost will rise dramatically. Remember that with web printers you always want to be “swimming downstream” and work with the press.

Book Page Size:

Size does matter! The reason for this is yield or how many pages can be culled from a sheet or roll of paper. Your standard size on a web press is 5 3/8 x 8 3/8” or even 6 x 9” with some book printing companies. The 5 3/8 x 8 3/8” page size allows for between 32 and 64 pages depending upon the web printer’s press size and roll size. Odd size pages that fall between these and an 8 3/8 x 10 7/8” size, such as a 7 x 10” or 8 x 8”, while all doable has a lot of waste causing you to in reality pay for the full size page.

Page and Signature Count:

Page counts are important as the more pages the more in cost to you. They are also important if you want to perfect bind your book as the usually accepted minimum width of the spine in book printing is one eighth of an inch.  Signatures are also very important to your cost of printing books as you are virtually paying for your book printing on the basis of how many signatures are required to print it. The reason you see extra blank pages at the back of the book is that it is easier to print a book with full signatures than to remove a few pages. Check with your book printer and find out what his full signature count is. If he is running a 32 page press, then adjust your font/borders/copy, etc. in order to not have to print a couple of extra pages as that could be costly and wasteful.

Most digital book printing companies will not tell you this, but they print 2 or 4 of the same page up in order to get the best “click price” for themselves. If you size your book to fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet as two if for the digital book printer, and tell him in front that you want two up pricing you too can benefit by having the cost of printing your text pages cut in almost half. I say almost as there is usually a moderate charge for the cutting of the two book sections. With PBD, we do this automatically.

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