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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Six Custom Book Printing Costs to Consider Before They Show Up on Your Bill

When working with book printing companies, you should be aware that your final invoice may include “extras.” These are not unreasonable charges; rather they are expenses you should consider and negotiate prior to sending your InDesign files to press, or you may be disturbed by the final bill.

  • Overs: Offset presses cannot be turned on and off instantly, printing the exact number of book copies you need. In addition, the processes following presswork (i.e., folding, trimming, perfect binding, and such) all inadvertently destroy some copies of your book. This is called spoilage. To compensate for this spoilage, your printer will usually produce more books than needed (referred to as “overage”). The industry standard is to produce up to ten percent more copies than the requested press run (charged back to you at the per-book unit cost). That said, you can usually negotiate a lower billable percentage with your custom book printer at the estimating stage of book production. (Keep in mind that it is also industry standard for your printer to supply up to ten percent fewer copies than requested, unless explicitly forbidden to do so. This is called “underage.” However, your not accepting underage allows the printer to deliver more than ten percent overage. All of this is negotiable.)
  • Freight: Freight is not included in the book printing price, so it is prudent to discuss how your printer will get the printed books to you and how much this will cost. Usually, the total freight estimate provided by your printer will be just that, an estimate (close but not exact).
  • Stamping Die: If your case-bound book includes a cloth cover imprinted with stamping foil, the dies for this operation will be an additional cost. Dies for a few words on the front cover, back cover, and spine may cost $440.00 or so.
  • Carton Printing Die: The same goes for the cutting die used to produce bumper-end mailers (if this is how you plan to pack the individual copies of your book that will be sent to your subscribers). If you print black ink (address information and logo) on your bumper-end mailers, the die for this operation will cost several hundred dollars extra as well.
  • UPS Costs for Mailing Proofs: Your printer will be sending you low-quality “position” proofs of your text pages and much higher quality color proofs of your color pages and book jacket, as well as a sample of your “case” (the cardboard and fabric binding materials with foil stamping, if the book will be case bound). All of this will incur UPS or FedEx charges that will be billed back to you. The same goes for any office copies you request. Paper is heavy, so this could add several hundred dollars to your invoice.
  • Author’s Alterations: If you make any editorial changes to the proofs (to fix your errors rather than the printer’s errors), this will cost extra. Even if you make the changes and resubmit the affected pages as corrected PDF files, you will still see an extra cost on your invoice.

When you’re working with custom book printer services (whether paperback book printers or hardcover book printers), it is prudent to discuss these potential extra costs early in the print buying process. They could add up to several thousand dollars on a $10,000 to $20,000 press run, so it’s best to avoid any surprises.

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