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Why Digital Printing is the Affordable Choice for Short Run Books

On Short Production Runs, Digital Printing offers a Lower Cost per Book than traditional Offset Printing

As a general rule, digital printing offers a lower unit cost than offset printing for short production runs, like 200 or 300 books. This is because a digital printing press has minimal set-up costs associated with a production run.

Unlike an offset printing press, a digital press does not use printing plates. So there is no expense involved with plate creation when printing digitally. Also, preparing for a digital press run requires very little "make-ready" time and few adjustments. Because the costs associated with set-up are minimal, short run books have a lower unit cost when produced on a digital press.

Why not use Offset Printing for Short Runs?

An offset press requires printing plates, longer prep time and more preliminary adjustments to establish a smooth production run. These plate charges and higher set-up costs would inflate the book's unit cost on a small production run because they cannot be effectively distributed over a limited number of books.

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 costs of an offset press run are greater than those associated with a digital run, a larger order allows these higher initial costs 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 that of a digital press. So with offset printing, the book's unit cost decreases as the order quantity increases.

Digital for Short Book Runs, Offset for Long Book Runs

The exact order volume that determines which printing method is more economical will vary from project to project. But, as a rule of thumb, when ordering books in smaller quantities, digital printing will offer the most economical unit cost. And when ordering books in larger quantities, offset printing will offer the most economical unit cost.

Do you have an upcoming book project? Give Formax a call. As a provider of digital and offset printing services, we can easily help you determine which production method is the most economical for your particular project. We can offer you other money-saving ideas too!

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 book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus 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 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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