Printing options were overwhelming when I started looking at them. There are many options, services, prices, etc. I didn’t even know where to start and really I just wanted to get an idea of what it might cost before I even took on the project.
However, pricing out book printing was a bit of a catch 22. I wanted to get an idea of what it was going to cost before I put too much work into it but I couldn’t get a quote without more information about my book. What dimensions, how many pages, how many copies? I didn’t know what dimensions would work best for my drawings, or how the pages would be laid out, so I didn’t know how many pages there would be. Basically I needed to start building the book before I knew how much it would cost and if it would be worth it.
Nailing down an approximate cost
The other problem I ran into was different book printers had different dimensions, so it was hard to compare. I was looking at short run printing from online companies and their options were all different. One would have 7” square books and the other would be 8.5” at a different price. Their cheapest books weren’t square (I had basically settled on a square book) and prices shot up when adding pages and options. Then I found out how much shipping would be and basically gave up on online printing companies.
Local printers means no shipping
Once I realized how much shipping would be, I started looking for local printers. There were a few big box stores (Staples, Walmart, etc.) that would print books, but their prices were pretty steep. They were made for printing individual photo books.
Then I looked for printing houses nearby and found a number of local-ish companies that printed books. At least I could go pick the books up rather than ship them. However, I needed to contact them for quotes and I still didn’t have the details I needed for a quote (such as size and number of pages).
Finding an automatic cost estimator
I had a breakthrough when I found an offset printing company, PrintNinja, that had an online quote generator. This was very useful because I could see the cost effect of changing certain parameters. I could switch from color to black and white printing, adjust how many pages I thought it would be, book size, etc. All without contacting a printer and asking for a quote. They also had great descriptions of all the parameters, such as paper weight, covers, etc. This at least gave me a ballpark for what my printing might cost. It was in the thousands of dollars.