Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

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.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Short-run Book Printing: Ways to Cut Costs

On this custom printing job, we’re trimming the book costs to the bone. A print brokering client of mine is producing a family history from the Second World War. He needs to keep costs down since he will be paying the bill himself. However, it’s his legacy. Therefore, the book has to look really good.

Questioning Book Trim Sizes

For this 352-page book with an ultra-short press run of 50, 100, or 200 copies, we have looked at offset and digital commercial printing from various vendors. Offset would be ideal due to the superior quality of the print. In fact, regardless of how we produce the text, printing the cover via offset lithography will be essential in order to maintain the level of quality my client requires.

In the various estimates I have received, I have seen about a $2,500.00 premium (for all press run options) to print the 9” x 12” size rather than the 8.5” x 11” format. Although the larger book would give a more dramatic feel to the printed product, and although it would provide more space for a more ornate interior design, it would be expensive.

Other vendors’ prices reflect a smaller cost difference between the two sizes, but the $2,500 price difference noted above comes from the vendor with the lowest overall bid. So this may be a good place to cut. Therefore, I have asked my client to consider the 8.5” x 11” size over the larger format.

Questioning the French Flaps

My client also wanted French flaps, the flaps that fold back into the front and back covers giving the illusion of a dust cover on a paperback book. It’s very high style. I included them on a book for the Chilean Embassy once. Picture 3.5” flaps extending from the face margin of the front and back covers. Once folded in, they give an extra front and back panel on which to include author biographies, supplemental material, or whatever else the author wants.

However, they’re expensive. The commercial printing vendor with the low bid would charge about $700.00 for French flaps on any of the three press runs. Therefore, I’ve asked my client to consider their value to him.

Considering Cover Coatings

I initially specified a lay-flat dull film laminate to be applied to the front and back covers. These offer a crisp appearance and ultimate protection for the books. However, the coating is applied by an additional vendor, a subcontractor. The low bid vendor can apply a dull UV coating with his own equipment, saving approximately $200.00 to $500.00 for all press run options. I’ve asked my client to consider this.

Considering the Digital Option

Another print vendor with an HP Indigo can offer a digital 9” x 12” book with French flaps for approximately $2,300.00 less than the low bid offset printer can produce an 8.5” x 11” offset-printed book with French flaps. This would be true for 100 books but not for 200 books.

There will be a lot of photos, so this is not necessarily the best answer. The Indigo is the highest quality digital printer I’ve seen. The liquid toners provide superb color. But for this job all that’s needed is black and white. However, the photos are from World War II. They’re not great. They need to be exceptionally well reproduced. Fortunately the digital commercial printing vendor has also included in his price an 80# Finch Vanilla Text stock, which is slightly thicker than the paper included in the low-bid offset printer’s estimate.

I’m going to want to see samples of similar print books from this vendor, but I’ve asked my client to keep an open mind. Fortunately, only the interior pages would be printed digitally. The cover would be offset printed, and the pricing would include French flaps.

The All-Digital Option

I have tried to steer my client away from only printing an electronic book to be read on a tablet. I think that especially for a family history, a physical print book he and his family members can hold in their hands would be treasured. After all, the focus of the book will be on the photos. So having a two-page spread of 9” x 12” pages (i.e., a 18” x 12” canvas, if you will), would be impressive.

That said, it wouldn’t hurt to distill the InDesign book file into a screen-ready (as opposed to press-ready) PDF. Perhaps the design could be slightly altered as well to optimize this version for reading on a tablet. The good news is that burning the file to CD or DVD (even commercially, in order to yield 50, 100, or 200 copies) would not be very expensive.

If my client were to print (either digitally or via offset lithography) a small to medium inventory of physical print books and also burn PDFs of the book to CD or DVD, he could sell the CDs or DVDs for a small amount and make a profit that could help offset the cost of the physical book printing run.

I’ve also asked my client to consider this option, and, just in case, I have an offset printer waiting in the wings who duplicates CDs and DVDs in addition to putting ink and toner on paper.

What You Can Learn from This Experience

Here are some rules of thumb to take away from this case study:

  1. Consider the trim size when designing a book. The number of book pages that can be laid out on a press sheet will significantly affect the final cost.
  2. Any aspect of production that can be done in-house by your printer, rather than jobbed out to a subcontractor, will save you money. This includes binding methods and cover coating methods.
  3. “Bells and whistles” such as French flaps, embossing, die cutting, and such, improve the overall look of a book. However, their absence does not necessarily reduce the aesthetic value of your project. Consider whether they are really necessary. Omitting them can save you money.
  4. Look closely at the press run and page count when determining whether to choose an offset or digital press. Offset is still superior, but for many jobs digital printing would be fine. Don’t pay for what you can’t see. But be sure to check out samples closely under good light.
  5. In choosing between a print version only or an electronic version only, why settle for one or the other? Consider saving money by doing slightly shorter runs of both.
  6. These rules of thumb pertain to other jobs than just book printing.

2 Responses to “Short-run Book Printing: Ways to Cut Costs”

  1. Thanks for sharing this information. This is really useful. Great posting!


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved