saving money on book printing

With book printing and manufacturing as in life the song “Little Things Mean A Lot” holds true.

There are a number of seemingly little things that can make or break your book printing day, leaving you with great savings of the “heartbreak of book production psoriasis.” My intention here is to point out some of what may be shortcuts to savings or even saving you from shortcuts of your own. Which shall hold true will be in the eye of the reader as in some cases it will be a subjective call as to how you choose to proceed and what your level of risk tolerance is.

Some of the “little things” for you to consider and their ramifications are:

Cross Grain Web Book Printing:

Cross grain printing is to print against the grain, or at a right angle to the way the paper is running as opposed to with the grain. Printing with the grain generally is a better way to print so that the folding process and the finished book lay as flat as possible.  Paper, as trees have a grain direction. Paper will tear easier with the grain than against.  The benefit of printing “cross grain” is that it is cheaper to produce your book with by approximately 25% due to a better yield on the paper. If you choose to print “cross grain” in order to save money on your book printing then at the very least leave the books sit in your book printer’s controlled environment in order to settle and not pick up moisture too fast after the press heaters dried out the paper during the run. The risk of “cross grain” printing is that the book may “roll” from top to bottom leaving you with a wavy book. All you can then do is stack them and let the weight settle them down and flatten out. Is it worth the risk to save the money? That in fact is your call.

Two-Up POD Digital Book Printing:

Many POD digital printers will not tell you this and in fact pass on the savings to you, but your book printing project can be run “two for the price of one” and thus may not pass on the savings to you. Most if not all POD books are printed on the Xerox Docutech which has a sheet size capacity of 11 x 17” and all book printers who possess these types of machines must allow Xerox, or Canon, another manufacturer of laser printers, to “wet their beak” as Don Fanucci said in Godfather 2. Simply put there is a “click charge” going back to the equipment manufacturer for every sheet running through the Docutech. The charge by the manufacturer to the book printer is either X cents per impression for an 8.5 x 11” sheet or doubles for an 11 x 17” sheet. There is not a further reduction for a 5.5 x 8.5” sheet as the machine cannot even run a sheet of that size.

Therefore what the book printer will do is to run two books up on an 8.5 x 11” sheet and cut his/her click charge in half. The largest size book you can get in this fashion would be 5 3/8 x 8 ¼” as the three knife trim in perfect binding takes of an eighth of an inch on three sides.

Knowing this you can ask your book printer for a two up rate as it is an easy layout imposition to do so on the press. If not, you can provide a two up of the same page on an 8.5 x 11” layout to the book printing company.  The only limitation due to the equipment and bindery thereafter is you cannot get a full 5.5 x 8.5” book, but then again if you were printing on a web printing press you would not get that either.

General Money Saving Tips:

Increase your run if on a web press as the unit price drops mightily once the set up costs are covered in the first quantity quoted. Use a lighter weight paper as paper can account for half the cost of a web printing run. Make sure you print in standard sizes that allow for the best yield on a press signature as oddball sizes waste paper. Understand signatures as book printing and all presses print on signatures which could be 32 to 64 pages for a digest size book. Therefore if you have any control over the layout and page flow, avoiding those few extra pages can save you considerably. Sometimes adding a few pages to round out a signature can actually lower your costs which is why you see blank pages in the back of a book. As each book printer uses different web printing equipment discuss this with your press as you are nearing completion of your layout.


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