How Much Does It Cost To Print A Book? Doing My Self-Publishing Homework

book and script editor for hire Joe Wallaceby Joe Wallace

People aren’t going to like this. Especially some blogs on self-publishing, print-on-demand, and etc. And while what I am about to relate is based on preliminary research only, it does beg a couple of important questions about cost vs. convenience. Do I have the answers to those questions yet? No.

As some readers here already know, I run, a blog about vinyl records, record collecting, the “vinyl lifestyle” and related topics. Recently I started a book project about strange, obscure and really weird LPs and found myself facing a dilemma. Self-publish or find a publisher?

Self-publishing these days implies an e-book. But I need hard copies to sell at conventions, record fairs and the like. In my case, knowing my potential audience well enough to know hard copies are the bigger draw, I can’t avoid the printed page.

I’m halfway finished with the book project at the time of this writing, and it occurred to me that perhaps I should look into starting an imprint for this project rather than approach a print-on-demand service. I started researching printing press companies rather than P.O.D. companies or “publish your book” websites. I looked up “printing services” on Google, and “printing presses”.

It’s true that submitting a book to a printing press requires more technical know-how and care than submitting to a middleman who you pay to help you with your book project. But I know I can handle that technical stuff–it’s about margins, PDF files and images formatted correctly. It does not seem THAT difficult with a bit of persistence and stubbornness.

My initial research results weren’t promising. I need full color pages for 101 album covers, so my costs are considerably higher than a non-graphics intensive black & white book. The stateside companies I contacted quoted me a whopping $7000 for TWO HUNDRED LOUSY COPIES! Doing the math…well, I didn’t bother. I can’t afford 7K. Print-on-demand sites weren’t much better. In some cases my full color needs were THE stumbling block.

Then I started researching offshore printing presses, and guess what? I got a $3000 quote for full color inside and out…for TWO THOUSAND COPIES. That’s 250 pages, full color, quality paper.

Imagine, fiction writers and non-fiction counterparts, how much your smaller, non-color book would cost if you had it PRINTED overseas rather than going through a stateside POD publisher. The economics of a black-n-white paperback book with standard paper? Potentially astounding.

I can’t vouch for the quality, reliability or safety of doing an overseas print order. But what I DID do was to take a few of my favorite books and see who/where they were printed. I found that books similar in format or audience to mine, done independently and in small runs, were all printed in China.

Again, I cannot vouch for any of these companies I’ve examined. Yet. But I am SERIOUSLY looking into offshoring my book to China. It’s a simple case of economic survival and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. But I have a book project that needs printing, and I know two printers who will give me two thousand books for roughly three to four thousand dollars.

What would YOU do?

One thought on “How Much Does It Cost To Print A Book? Doing My Self-Publishing Homework”

  1. This wouldn’t work for your project, but for self-pubbers of non-picture fiction I’d suggest CreateSpace. There are no upfront fees, they just charge you if you want to buy your book (you do have to pay for 1 or 2 copies while you check the formatting, however). Your book goes for sale on their site and and it can be made available to bookstores, libraries and online retailers (like B&N). My book (which is about 138 pages) costs me just $2.48 per copy if I want print copies for my own distribution.

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