Printing Options

Overwhelming possibilities

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. However, 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 it 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.

Printing comparison

Two short run printing services.  Blurb.ca on top (in CAD) and Lulu.com on the bottom in USD.  Both have different options, sizes and prices. (prices may have changed since time of writing).

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.

Quote Generator

PrintNinja quote generator screenshot (prices at time of writing).

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