Print on Demand Publishing Economics
A standard 288 page 5.5"x 8.5" paperback book [100,000
words] with a single color laminated cover printed by your local
offset shop will cost around the following:
|Price Per Book
The economies of scale do not kick in until you reach the 5000 copies
mark. The higher per copy price at lower quantities factors in the
fixed set up cost.
NOTE: printers reserve the right to force you to buy overruns,
[ 5% to 10% of the quantity ordered]. This can add significantly
to your cost.
Most first time printers do a short run of 500 books. These are
not printed large presses with metal plates prepared from film,
rather they use the same pricess as print on demand, using a large
This means you can create proof copies on any good laser printer
to sell directly.
An ISBN number from Bowker costs $225 for ten numbers.
Official copyright registration [optional] costs $30 (http://www.loc.gov/copyright)
One color cover - really gives you two colors
to work with, the color of the paper and the color of the ink.
Four color – required if you use a color
photograph on your cover
Use a professional designer available on elance $50 or your local
printer at around $200
Professional page compositor - will pick a suitable
font, balance the pages, and make sure that the headers and footers
are attractive and not crowded. Find somebody experienced in working
with printers preparing the camera ready pages, although most presses
have entirely eliminated the optical camera step using "output
to disk" as the only input to the printing press. Expect to
pay $40 $50/hr. After the initial book design is created, the text
entry will only take a minute or two a page.
Minimum order 500 or more to recover your investment
There are key drivers of costs:
Trim size - the width x height dimensions of
the book in inches. Books are printed in standard sizes, only a
couple of which are economical in print runs under several thousand
||4.25" x 6.75"
||5.5" x 8.5"
||6.0" x 9.0"
||7.0" x 10.0"
||8.5" x 11.0"
Mass market format - standard size for fiction novels,
cost effective over 1000 books.
Trade paperback format - 5 1/2" x 8 1/2",
is the only size that can be printed in quantities under 1000 books
without a huge premium.
In both cases, the printed book will actually be a little smaller,
up to 1/8", due to the limitations of the short run binding
The other sizes are only cost effective for large runs using larger
Small presses are sheet fed, like copying machines or laser printers,
with relatively small sheets of paper. This allows four 5 1/2"
x 8 1/2" pages to be printed at a time (4 up) on each side
of a single 11" x 17" sheet of paper.
Printing on non-standard sheet sizes requires an extra cutting
step, plus a lot of wastage.
Larger offset presses handle larger sheet sizes, but the plate
preparation is expensive.
Web presses are the largest and fastest presses; used by newspapers
and large printers. They use large continual rolls of paper, rather
than sheets, including cutting and folding operations. Limited to
large runs from commercial publishers.
Paper weight, type and color a- use standard 50# white offset
Cover thickness of paperback covers is measured in points [thousandths
of an inch]. The standard paperback cover is 10 points (1/100 of
an inch) laminated on one side.
Standard book pricing includes a paperback cover with one color
Hard cover books may be highly desirable, but are too expensive
for most self publishers at small print runs. To self publish a
hardcover for a 100 or 200 book run costs and additional $5 to $10
per book, depending on the process. At 1000 copies, $2 per book.
This includes a four color the dust cover.
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