Book Printing Small Run

Written by Christopher Ransom
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If you are considering a book printing small run, that is, a run of anything less than 2000 copies, there are a number of solutions available for you. The fact is, for most book printing companies, small run book printing is the lifeblood of their business. However, the pricing structures and flexibility of these book printing small runs vary somewhat, and this may affect the long-term costs of your book printing.

On commonly touted book printing service is the ability to print-on-demand or POD. POD is a relatively new service offered thanks to the printer's ability to store your book in a virtual library and then print and ship additional copies of your book as requested. In the old days, a few years ago, the book printing process was limited by the amount of work, and therefore the cost, associated with printing any number of books. It used to cost your printer a great deal of time to prepare the print run, no matter if that run was 100 or 1000 copies. Thanks to print on demand technology, the initial investment needed for book printing small runs have stabilized somewhat, and the cost of printing additional copies down the road has been reduced significantly.

Is Print on Demand Essential for Your Book Printing Small Run?

First, let's look at an example of two book printing small runs with and without the benefit of print on demand technology. Let's say Printer A has quoted you a price of $2500 that includes all of the initial set up, preparation, and printing of your first 500 copies. If you were to break that number down, the real cost of your books might be $1500 with the other $1000 going to preparation costs. Let's assume the same costs for Printer B, who does offer print on demand technology. Now, six months have passed and you've sold out of books and you've just taken and order from a local distributor for 65 copies. Without the benefit of print on demand services, you may be required to put up the $1000 set-up costs all over again, plus the cost of printing 65 copies of new books, for a total of $1650 for Printer A. With Printer B, your book is already stored and ready to print at a moment's notice. Printer B can now offer you the ability to print 65 books at a unit cost of $10, for a total cost of $650, for a total savings of $1000.

Not all book printers specializing in short run book printings will use the same print on demand technology. While it never hurts to understand the technology used, you should be more concerned with the long-term costs by any name. When placing your initial book printing small run, ask your printer what it will cost down the road to order additional copies, and what is the minimum quantity to fulfill an order. Some book printers will even go as far as to accept direct orders through retailers or other wholesalers, allowing them to fulfill individual orders for you without even charging you, the author. In this instance, the dealer, retailer or wholesaler takes the customer order, passes it along to the printer, the printer completes the small run, ships the books, and pays you a royalty through an account you have already set up. Such printers usually have the ability to print as little as 1 copy of your book at a time, and that's a mighty short run book printing indeed.

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