How much does it cost to print a book?

One of the first questions raised by a book committee is often, "How much will it cost?" Let's look at three similar but significantly different terms: Cost, price and value.

Cost, in dollar terms, is the actual layout of cash to get the book printed and into the hands of the distributor.
Price is the dollar value charged to the buyer.
Value, as they say in certain TV commercials, is priceless.

By "cost", most book committee researchers mean, "what will it cost us to get this book printed?" For the moment, let's disregard the fact that there are many pre-press costs before you get to the printer.

The three factors that most affect the cost of printing a book are these: number of pages, number of copies, whether you print in colour or black and white.

Other elements are: physical dimensions of the book, hard cover or soft cover, dust jacket or not, colour cover, quality of paper, weight of paper, sewn or glued binding, and a number of other lesser factors. Even delivery time can affect cost if it's a slack time of year, you may get a better price.

When you contact a printer to get an estimate, these are some of the facts you will be discussing, so be prepared.

Get quotes from three printers if you can. Don't be surprised if the figures vary widely. Compare samples from the printing houses. Ask for references.

Keep in mind that the longer the press run, the lower the cost per unit. Much of the cost of printer is in the set-up and preparation of the press, and is borne by the first book. After that, you're paying for ink and paper and press time. Short press runs, of only a few hundred books, may be cheaper at an insta-press, pay-as-you-print centre than going to a conventional printer.

When asking for a quote, get it "bracketed". This means, if you want to print 2,000 books, you ask for quotes for, say, 1,500, 2,000 and 2,500. This will give you an idea of how the cost per unit changes.

But don't base your decision simply on the cost of printing the book. That's only one element in the overall cost of your book. There are many other cost factors that should be considered. These are all part of determining the SALE PRICE of the book and that's another story HERE

Photo: Artwork on the side of the Waterfall Tea Room in Yarker, Ontario. Orland French photo