your printing and binding options explained, including print-on-demand
At The Manuscript Publisher, we assist and advise you on all of your printing and binding options. All too often, this is more than just a question of paper and ink! We also cover the options that do not involve printing at all (e.g. see section on e-Publishing), or do not involve the large capital outlay usually associated with printing – e.g. Print-on-Demand. In addition, we can show you how you can combine all of these options (print, print-on-demand, e-publishing) into a single, effective publishing solution.
The advice that we offer is fair and impartial – we are an independent entity, not tied to any third-party printing or publishing concern. What we offer is a Print Management Service, which includes price brokering but also involves getting your book printed to the specifications that you desire, to the quality that you demand and from sources that are reliable. We handle all interactions with third parties, ensuring that your book is not printed until you are satisfied with the final draft and have signed off on a proof copy.
We source for you the best available print prices and options. Based on our knowledge of publishing and in consultation with you, we aim to match print runs to anticipated demand, with the objective of getting you more books for your money without having to print more books than you actually need.
Among the ways that all this can be achieved include:
- Short-run digital book production
- By weighing your options
Short-run Digital Book Production
The main advantage of digital printing techniques (as opposed to the traditional lithographic or offset printing that preceded it but, which is still used although mainly for very large print-runs) is that they can cater to much shorter print-runs (anything from a few dozen to a several hundred copies), while still maintaining a competitive unit cost price. Reprints are easy to arrange and because files are stored digitally (no printing plates involved), you can make amendments and additions to future prints without too much inconvenience or expense.
In the main, you are not restricted in terms of your printing options, which include book format size, print quality, paper stock, page count, binding styles and so forth. Most, if not all of these options can be catered to, even within very tight budgets. If you are not sure, we can advise you on the options that are best suited to your project.
With print-on-demand, books are printed to order, even if the order is only for a single copy! Thus, you are not running the risk of investing in stock or inventory that won’t sell.
Platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Ingram offer professional and affordable services in this area. Prices are competitive, delivery times are reasonable and the quality is quite good. There are few, if any, set-up costs, meaning little or no exposure to risk. The only possible disadvantage is that you may be limited in terms of your printing options – e.g. book format size, choice of binding, use of colour, etc. A one-size-fits-all approach tends to prevail.
Print-on-Demand also provides a useful means of fulfilling sales when there is a surplus of demand at the end of a print-run. It allows you to keep your book in print without have to invest in new stock or inventory, with associated overheads.
Whereas printing bills used to represent the single largest item of expenditure and often determined the success of failure of a publishing project, it is possible these days to publish your books without actually printing a single copy! With a certain amount of strategic planning, you may even be able to cover the cost of printing from pre-orders.
This option does not involve any printing at all, which is why we consider it under a separate heading (see section on e-Publishing for more information). Nevertheless, at the present stage in the evolution of modern publishing, both the print and e-publishing options should be considered in tandem with each other and, therefore, inform your publishing plans. While e-publishing does present an attractive alternative to print from a cost point of view, it should also be seen as complementary.
While e-publishing is growing very rapidly, it has yet to overtake print as the dominant form by which people read and buy literature. That day may come (and sooner than expected too) but for now, print and digital co-exist, both in the market place as well as in your readers’ hearts and minds.
There is more on this website about our e-publishing services, including how we can convert your manuscript to all of the common e-book formats (ePub, mobi, PDF), capable of being read on all of the popular e-reading devices and apps (Kindle, iBook, Nook, Sony Reader, your PC or laptop), as well as helping you to market and sell your e-books through all the major online retailers.
In addition to the printing process itself (digital, litho, print-on-demand, etc), factors that will influence the cost of producing your book include:
- page count
- book format size
- paper stock
- use of colour
- choice of binding style
- cover lamination
- print run
Our knowledge and experience in all of these areas will assist your decision making. You want to choose the options that are right for you, right for your budget and right for the audience to whom you book is aimed.
Common binding styles to choose from include:
- Perfect bound (paperback) – the most common binding option for soft covers
- Case bound – for hard covers. More expensive than perfect bound, it is typically used for limited print runs, such as special editions or presentation copies. It does have the advantage over perfect bound in that it allows for the book to ‘open flat’. This makes it attractive for certain types books, such as children’s books, cookery books and certain types of manuals
- Saddle stitch – used for pamphlets, booklets, magazines, etc. Usually only an option where page count is less than 100
- Combe bound – informal style, ideal for memos, circulars, reports, etc.
- Wiro bound – a style that is often used for manuals, cookery books, etc because it allows the book to ‘open flat’
- Canadian bind – similar to wiro bound but with the appearance of perfect bound
- Loose leaf – where no cover or binding is required
Lamination is generally available in either a matt or gloss finish. Although it adds a little to the overall cost, it is well worth the investment: it protects against wear and tear and prolongs the shelf-life of your book. This would be important if you are planning to sell through retail outlets, where books are taken on a sale or return basis.
Other cover decoration options include spot or machine varnish for soft covers; foil emboss and dust jackets for case bound books.
Book Format Size
Books can be printed to any page size but the more common options include:
- A Format: 177mm x 111mm
- B Format: 198mm x 129mm
- A5: 210mm x 148mm
- Demi: 216mm x 138mm
- Royal: 234mm x 156mm
- C Format: 235mm x 153mm
- Pinched Crown: 244mm x 170mm
- Quarto: 246mm x 172mm
- Crown: 246mm x 189mm
- B5ish: 250mm x175mm
- A4ish: 275mm x 205mm
- A4: 297mm x 210mm
Fiction is normally printed on a bookwove paper stock, which comes in white or cream options. Bond is a paper stock option that is less expensive and usually used to save on costs (e.g. for non-fiction works, like text books). Illustrations and photo inserts can be printed on coated papers for an enhanced effect.
Print vs Digital – which to choose?
One of the reasons why print and digital should work in tandem is that, these days, when books are being set to print, they are outputted in Portable Document Format (PDF) which is actually a common e-book format. Electronic circulation can be handy and inexpensive tool for generating interest, publicity, reviews, buzz marketing, etc.
Bear in mind however, that people don’t always buy books with the intention of reading them! When it comes to giving gifts or for books intended to be read to children, people tend to be drawn more towards printed editions than the e-book.