How Is Our Book Printing Cost Calculated?

Here’s a question I commonly hear at Bookmobile: How is the book printing cost calculated? My short answer is that the cost depends on the specifications of your book—page count, trim size, binding, materials, and quantity—and if any of those specs change, your book printing estimate will change.

We don’t have a simple price chart at Bookmobile, because we offer so many options that any price chart would literally be a multi-paged, 70″-wide spreadsheet. But, what follows is some specific information about how book printing costs are calculated.

Here’s the logic behind our book printing costs

First, we need to be competitive in pricing with other printers! Fortunately for you, there are many book printers. So really, no printer can get away with gouging you on price—if you’re quoting your book with multiple printers (as you should), you’ll immediately see if a printer is way too high.

Second, we need to make a profit. Of course. We charge more for recycled paper than nonrecycled paper, because the cost of recycled paper is higher. As much as we’d like to use solely recycled paper, that would raise our costs, which bring us back to point one: we need to be competitive in pricing with other printers.

Now, on to the specifications that affect costs (and I am here just covering the specs covered in our Request a Printing Quote Form—there are more choices not covered in that form that we do offer, like French flaps, foil stamps, etc.).

  • Number of interior pages: as a digital printer, we pay a click charge for each page we print, so you in turn are charged for each page you print with us. Keep in mind a page is one side of a sheet of paper, i.e. 100 pages is 50 sheets of paper, printed on both sides (duplexed).
  • Trim size: the page width and height. As with most book printers, we try to fit as many pages on one sheet of paper as possible—the more pages we can fit on one sheet, the lower our cost and yours. For us, any trim size that is 6″ x 9″ or smaller will be our cheapest page rate, because we can fit four pages on one sheet, as you can see in the image below. And don’t worry, we take care of the impositioning on our end.

book printing cost

  • Interior prints black ink only or color: color printing costs us more than black ink only. Our color printing is a 4-color process (CMYK), so there is no savings for printing 2-color with us—we’d just have to print your 2-color file as a 4-color file.
  • Text paper: we offer interior stock from 50- to 100-lb. in weight, natural or white, uncoated or coated, and recycled or not. All of these papers are a different cost to us. Generally, the heavier the weight, the higher the cost; coated costs more than uncoated; and recycled costs more than nonrecycled.
  • Binding: we offer paperback, hardcover with a dust jacket, or a hardcover with a printed case. Paperback is the most economical choice, followed by a hardcover with a printed case, then a hardcover with a dust jacket. Hardcovers cost significantly more than paperbacks—there are a lot of materials and labor involved in producing a hardcover.
  • Cover or jacket lamination: the cost of matte lamination is slightly more than gloss lamination, due to the cost of our film.
  • Print quantity: the more books you print, the less the unit cost will—just be sure you can sell them in a reasonable amount of time. (We frequently see publishers print too many books to get the unit cost down, then end up losing any savings because they’re paying for storage for too long.) Our price breaks for quantity are labor-based. Each book requires time to prep for printing and binding, and the more books we produce in a run, the less time we’re spending on prep per book, so that savings is passed on to you.

Got it? Now go get your book printing cost estimate! And if you want to see the extras like French flaps, foil stamps, wire-o binding, etc., just leave me a note in the “Anything else?” box. But, be warned: while you should shop around, I don’t recommend getting too many quotes for one title—it’s hard to make a decision when you have eighteen choices in front of you (read Don Leeper’s Why Getting Too Many Book Printing Quotes Will Mess with Your Head).

Any other questions? Contact me!