Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Short Run Book Printing

This post provides links and descriptions of websites with short run book printing services.

The Purpose of Your Book

Most writers dream on phenomenal success with millions of books purchased around the world. However, from time to time, you may only want to print a small number of books to commemorate a special occasion or family event. Even printing your electronic work (blog posts, articles, etc.) as a book can be a nice way to archive your writing, both for your reference and posterity.

After a family trip to South Korea in 2012, I created a photo book. I wanted to include stories from our trip and history about the country as well as photos. The result was a book which I gave to a few select family members (who would be interested in the content). I printed a total of four book.

This past year I participated in a writing challenge. After six weeks I had finished a 60,000 word collection of stories from my family. I set it up as a book and printed two copies.

Several companies offer book printing services. Many of these expect large quantities of books. Offset printing technology has extensive costs and labor related to the setup, which is the same for 1 book or 5,000 books. However, quick printing technology can minimize many of these setup costs.

Below are two lists of printers. The companies on the first list allow you to print a minimum of one copy. The second list of companies generally require 24 or more books as a minimum.

The estimated prices are based on a 8.5-inch by 5.5-inch, 200-page book with black-and-white interior printing and a glossy color cover. All of these require a PDF of the interior pages, formatted to the selected print size, and a separate PDF of the cover, formatted to the companies specifications.

Minimum Quantity = 1

CreateSpace. Cost = $3.15 for 1 copy (This is based on proof copy of a 192-page book).
Amazon's CreateSpace website is the print brother of the Kindle e-book platform. With CreateSpace, your book is available on the platforms you select. However, just because a book is available on Amazon doesn't mean it will sell. If you have a small book project, you could  publish it through CreateSpace, and order copies as you need them.

Lulu. Cost = $3.85 for 1 copy.
I have used Lulu on multiple occasions to print small quantities of books. Lulu offers a variety of sizes, paper qualities, and cover options.

TheBookPatch. Cost = $5.95 for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. The Book Patch offers a variety of services including e-book creation, ISBNs, and author services.

Blurb. Cost = $4.25 for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. Blurb appears similar to Lulu in terms of printing options.

Minimum Quantity (approx 25)

DiggyPOD. Cost = $222.67 for 24 (9.27 per book).
48hrBooks. Cost = $226.25 for 25 (9.05 per book).
PublishingXpress. Cost = $526.22 for 25 (21.05 per book).
GorhamPrinting. Cost = $188.24 for 25 (7.55 per book).

If you or these sites find lower costs, please let me know. I was surprised to discover relatively high prices per copy on these sites.


Even if you eventually want to print several copies to sell or distribute, I still like the idea of being able to purchase one or two to check the layout. I found some sites that charge up to $80 for a proof copy of a book.

For these reasons, I will probably continue to use the companies on the first list.

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