In almost all instances the printing company is the last service that people go too after they have written their book and had it designed. However, this can be problematic if communication, experience and high professional standards are not maintained.

An example of this could be something as fundamental as the size of the book. For short runs which are usually defined by any quantity from 1 to 1000 copies of a book, digital printing is usually the cheapest method. Now, if you want to print an A4 book landscape, this will cost you considerably more than an A4 Portrait book.

Why is that you ask? Digital printing is limited in regards to the paper sheet size. Most modern digital presses have a maximum sheet size of 488mm long and 330mm high. However, a 488mm long sheet is almost twice the cost of a standard SRA3 sheet (450mm x 320mm) which is considered a standard sheet size in Australia.

Now let’s go back to the A4 landscape book. The length of an A4 Landscape book is 297mm. The internal pages of the book if perfect bound won’t be a problem, however, the cover is another story. If you are perfect binding your book the cover stock must be twice the length of the book plus the spine width. So, let’s do the sums. 297mm x 2, plus let’s say a 10mm spine. To perfect bind this size book, a sheet size of 604mm plus an additional 20mm for what we call bleed and trim will be required to reproduce the cover. This means that a standard digital press will not do the job and the cover will have to be printed on an offset press.

An example of the difference in costs between the 2 technologies based on commercial rates supplied to us by an independent printing company to print just the covers are below;

100 Portrait digital covers on 350gsm stock would cost approximately $145.78 plus gst

100 Landscape Offset covers on 350gsm stock would cost approximately $ 403.63 plus increased production times and higher binding costs.

For a saddle stitched book the cost difference is much higher. When you apply the same principle as the perfect bound book you need to take into consideration that the entire book will need to be printed on an offset press. Based on 100 copies of 24 page A4 Landscape book, plus Cover the costs are outlined below;

100 A4 Landscape books printed Offset $1752.91
Text stock: Gloss coated 150gsm
Cover stock: Gloss coated 250gsm printed 2 sides
Printed full colour throughout
Saddle Stitched

100 A4 Portrait books printed Digital $460.00
Text stock: Gloss coated 150gsm
Cover stock: Gloss coated 250gsm printed 2 sides
Printed full colour throughout
Saddle Stitched

To avoid any nasty surprises when it comes time to print your book, make a plan. In saying this, try to avoid using vanity publishers who are going to charge you a huge fee to project manage your book production.

If you follow these few simple steps you could save yourself a lot of money and disappointment.

To begin with, what is your budget for the entire project. Don’t get talked into spending more than you can afford.

There are a number of programs available for writing a book such as Word or Adobe Indesign. If you are planning on doing your own design work than either is suitable. If you have intentions of having your book formatted by a professional and you are using Word or a similar program, you need to make sure that you don’t format your book as you type. By that I mean, don’t use hard returns in your paragraphs’ or insert images or graphs. Just type in a plain text. Most graphic designers will use a program such as Adobe Indesign to do the layout for your book and to do that, they will have to undo all of the formatting that you have done.

After you have written your book and before it is designed, get an editor to read through your book to correct any spelling, grammar or other issues with your book if you feel that you require this service. That way you won’t incur additional costs from the graphic designer to make a change to the layout.

When the book has been edited and you have a rough page count that is the time to contact the printing companies to get an idea of the printing costs. Once you have an idea of the printing costs, you can make an informed decision about what size book you can afford to have printed and how many additional pages you consider to be acceptable for components such as heading, line spacing, text size and images.

Now it’s time to talk to the graphic designer. Whether you are having only the cover designed or the whole book, you know how much money you have left in your kitty to complete the project. Most graphic designers base their costs on an hourly rate, so time spent changing the content or removing formatting will cost you money.

If you require editorial or graphic design services, we have a number of external companies which we work with frequently that we can supply contact details for.

Best of luck with your project.