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Printing and Binding

When I started this business in 1991, the only choice for mass production book manufacturing was offset printing. The setup, printing, binding, and materials costs tend to be high with offset, although the greater the number of copies you have printed, the smaller the unit cost will be. But it can take a long time to sell 1000 or more copies of a book.

In the past several years, digital book printing and the Print on Demand (POD) production model have become very popular, especially for the printing of small quantities. Digital book manufacturers keep a PDF file of your book on a server, then when they receive orders for your book, send that file to the printer. In a matter of minutes the book is printed and bound and ready to be shipped to the customer. We now have something called the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), basically an ATM for books, where a book is automatically printed, bound and trimmed while you wait. Currently there are 57 EBMs installed around the world. (For more on book distribution through POD, see Marketing and Distribution).

As streamlined and cost effective as POD is, offset printing and binding is still superior in terms of quality and the choices of formats available to you. POD is limited to just a few trim sizes, two (and sometimes only one) choices for paper color, and, although hardcover books, even with dust jackets, are available via POD, the choices here are even more limited. Halftone reproduction in black and white can vary widely from one printing to the next. With POD, one needs to keep cover design modest. POD reproduces gradients poorly, it can't do high ink coverage. On the other hand, color interior books, while more expensive than black and white, are more affordable via POD. (Four-color interior from offset is very expensive domestically; most publishers use Asian manufacturers to print 4-color interior books by offset).

I can help you decide which printing and binding format is best for your particular purposes.