How to Attain the Lowest Possible Price for Book Printing

To cut costs on your book project, try to choose design elements that are very economical to produce

If you’ve got an upcoming book or booklet project, you are likely looking for the most cost-effective solution. In order to attain the lowest price possible, it really helps to know how the features of a book will affect its printing cost.

As a longtime book printer, I’d like to share a few guidelines for saving money on books. These guidelines apply whether you are planning to print 200 books or 2,000 books…

Design your Book as a Standard Size

All book printers have certain page sizes they offer as standard sizes. These standard sizes are determined by a) the type of production equipment used by the printer and/or b) the most common and readily available paper sizes. Designing your page size to conform to one of your printer’s standard page sizes will reduce waste and optimize the production of your book, thus keeping the cost as low as possible.

For example, in the United States, the world of printing pretty much revolves around the standard 8.5” x 11” sheet size.  Chances are 8.5” x 11” will be one of the standard sizes offered by your printer. So your printing costs will likely be the lowest when you design your book to match this common size, or possibly another standard size offered by your printer.

Use Black Ink for the Book’s Pages

The vast majority of the time, it is more cost-effective to print in black ink than it is to print in color. This is why many books limit the use of color to the outside cover and print all of the interior pages in black ink. Basically, if the book contains mostly text, its pages should be printed in black ink to save money.

Of course, color is still recommended for any books that are promotional in nature, such as product catalogs. Full color is also a necessity for books that require high visual appeal, such as photography books or cookbooks. But, if there is no real benefit to printing the pages in color, black and grayscale printing is by far the most economical way to go.

Choose a Lighter Weight of Paper

When considering a particular type of paper for a print project, a lighter weight version of the same type of paper will generally cost less than its heavier counterpart. When it comes to book printing, these savings are magnified because each book has multiple pages.

For example, if all your book’s pages are to be printed in black ink only, you should weigh the cost advantages of printing on 50# uncoated offset versus 60# uncoated offset. Likewise, if you are printing your pages in color, you should weigh the cost difference between 80# gloss text and 100# gloss text.

Also, a lighter paper stock can help save on shipping and distribution costs…particularly if your book has a lot of pages.

Consider the Saddle-Stitch Binding Method

Saddle-Stitching is the most economical way to bind a book. This popular method uses printed sheets that are folded and nested one inside the other and then stapled through the fold line with wire staples. The staples pass through the folded crease from the outside and are clinched between the centermost pages.

Saddle-Stitching is used to bind a variety of multi-page documents including catalogs, manuals, directories, programs, comic books, coloring books, magazines, wall calendars, and so on.

The saddle-stitch binding method works best when the page count is relatively low. Books with higher page counts are often created with the Perfect Binding method. Perfect binding costs a little more than saddle-stitching but is still considered an inexpensive choice.

If Possible, Try to Order More Books at One Time

For printing short runs, like 150 or 250 books, digital printing offers a lower unit cost than offset printing. This is because a digital printing press has minimal set-up costs associated with a production run. An offset press, on the other hand, has higher set-up costs which cannot be efficiently distributed across a small production run.

However, as the order quantity increases, to say 500 or 1,000 books, offset printing becomes the more cost-effective production method. Even though the set-up cost of offset printing is higher, a larger order allows this cost to be distributed across more books. And once an offset press is running, the actual cost of applying ink to paper is substantially less than a digital press.

Ask Your Printer for Suggestions!

If cost is a factor in your book project, consult with your printer early in the creation process to discuss your plans and specifications. A few minutes spent with your printer at the beginning could translate to big savings at the end.

Formax is always happy to answer your questions and discuss ways to save money on book printing. Give us a call at 866-367-6221 or click here to access our quote request form. We look forward to assisting with your next book project!

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include full-color printing, all types of softcover books, laminated printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 314-434-5500 or 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services for over 30 years.

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