printing costs

10 Ways to Save Book Printing Costs

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

January 9, 2023

Authors don’t have to wait for a publishing company to decide to bring their book to print anymore. They can do it themselves and self-publish with a printing company instead. But one of the aspects of self-publishing that differs from working with a publishing company is that authors who publish their own books also have to pay any printing costs. Of course, authors who have written a book before may already have a fan base and a good idea of how many books they can expect to sell when they plan to print copies of a new book.

But to new authors who may not have a built-in audience ready to snap up copies of their first book, the prospect of self-publishing and funding the process themselves can be daunting. Many authors have justifiable concerns about spending too much money on the printing process, especially those authors with little or no experience publishing their own books. So, if you are concerned about book printing costs, take a look at 10 realistic ways to save book printing costs to keep more money in your pocket and maximize your profits once the sales start rolling in.

1. Be Patient

One way to keep book printing costs down is to avoid rushing the final processes of your book. The production of your book and the shipping speed of your printed book can both be expedited for an additional cost. While you are probably very excited to see the first copies of your published book, don’t be tempted to request that the printer speed up the final printing process for your book unless it is absolutely necessary.

You might be able to shave a few days off of the time it takes to produce the book, but you can save printing costs if you just wait patiently instead. A request for faster shipping methods also cost extra. So unless you have a real reason like a retailer has promised shelf space for your book or you have a book event to attend, wait those last few extra days and save yourself some money in the process.

2. Choose the Right Kind of Printing for Your Book

Books can be printed in two ways: digital or offset printing. Digital printers, like Publishing Xpress, can create beautifully printed books on demand for authors who need to order a few books or even a few thousand books making this the ideal choice for self-publishing. Offset printing, on the other hand, is reserved for large runs of books. Authors printing thousands of books can save money on printing expenses by using offset printing since the cost of each book reduces based on the volume of books being printed.

3. Go with a Less Flashy Cover

Developing a great book cover is critical to attracting the right readers to your book. And authors may even choose to work with a cover design expert to make sure their book’s cover checks all the boxes for their genre, theme, and overall feel for their books. And while the design of the cover is critical, using shiny finishes or unique materials on the book’s cover can really add up. Instead of an expensive upcharge for distinctive materials, invest the time and expertise needed to craft a winning cover with standard materials and save book printing costs.

4. Make the Best Binding Selection

Choose the best binding for your type of book. While you might think that the only type of binding you want to use is the perfect binding style, the truth is that some books should utilize one of the other standard bindings, because your book will not only look great, but it can also save on book printing costs.

  • Perfect Binding is ideal for novels, magazines, and other books that can benefit from the strong glued binding that produces a traditional book spine.
  • Plastic Coil is a great choice for books that need to be written on like workbooks or cookbooks and other books that lay flat. Plastic coil books are safe for use with little hands as well as a durable option for books that see heavy use.
  • Saddle Stitch is a good selection for shorter-length books that can stand up to a stapled binding like brochures and pamphlets.
  • Wire-o is another binding that allows books to lay flat, but the smaller wire binding works best with adults.

5. Minimize Color

Depending on the type of book you are writing, using black and white ink can save printing costs. Art, photography, coffee table books, and other projects that focus on visual elements require full-color printing to maintain the quality of the content. But many types of publications can still present beautifully with black ink printing or minimal color usage. Some self-publishing authors wisely choose to focus on appealing color cover art but remove color additions inside the book that add to the printing cost.

6. Reduce the Paper Weight

Authors can save printing costs by choosing lighter-weight paper for their book’s pages. Using the best type of paper for your book genre is important but often authors can choose to slightly shift down the paper weight selection to feel a cost difference. Coatings on paper also add up so reducing or eliminating the use of coated paper can also help self-publishing authors save book printing costs.

7. Review the Proof

One of the final stages in book printing is when authors review the final draft of their book before it goes to print. Authors can choose to receive this comprehensive proof in both a digital and a physical format. Both formats encompass the book in its entirety including both covers as well as every page of the book as it will appear once it is printed and bound. A straightforward way to save book printing costs is to go over this final proof relentlessly.

Taking your time to carefully review the proofs before giving the printer a thumbs up to begin printing can save authors a lot of heartache resulting from finding an error in a printed book. And writers can also save money when they catch errors in one of their drafts or in the final proof itself because they will avoid the need to reprint books without errors in them. New authors might want to choose to use a printed proof instead of a digital one, as well.

Printed proofs provide an actual full copy of the book, so authors can hold a finished text in their hands during this stage. But digital proofs are convenient and can often be provided to authors within a very short period of time making them a very appealing option.

Bonus Suggestion: For authors anxious about catching every error, hiring a professional editor to review drafts or the final proof is an excellent investment since experts can catch the small errors or problems that can keep a good book from being a great one.

8. Think Big (Printing Runs)

For self-publishing authors, printing a larger run of books can actually save you money by reducing the time between additional printing runs and potential lost sales when your book is gaining traction with readers. Also, the per book cost will be lower as you print more copies. Authors who use offset printing can also save money on printing costs if they print larger runs of their book at a time rather than smaller, repeated runs that drive the cost-per-book up.

9. Use a Pricing Calculator

An author that self-publishes should know the printing costs for all aspects of their book printing ahead of time. Use your printer’s pricing calculator so you can remove or replace unnecessary extras in the printing process and create a concrete budgeting plan before you spend any money. Monetary surprises can deflate excitement and profits so working with a transparent printing company like Publishing Xpress can help you save printing costs in the long run.

10. Use a Standard Book Size

The beauty of self-publishing is that authors can choose exactly how to present their book including choosing the book sizing they want to use. But while authors can certainly print books in almost any custom size and are limited only by the built-in restrictions connected to binding style, a way to save book printing costs is to select a standard book size on most bindings. The standard sizes that many printers use are

  • Perfect Bound, Plastic Coil and Wire-O: 5 ½ x 8 ½, 6 x 9, 8 ½ x 11 and 9 x 12 inches
  • Saddle Stitch: 5 ½ x 8 ½, 6 x 9, and 8 ½ x 11 inches

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