As a self-publishing author, it can be challenging to make a decision about the best printing options for your book. Once your manuscript has been edited and typeset, and the front and back covers have been designed, your book is ready to be printed. At this point, however, there are all sorts of different choices you need to make ranging from: what book printing process to use, book trim sizes, hardback or paperback format, full-colour or black and white interior pages, book cover finishing treatments and binding styles.

The first consideration is to select the best book printing process for your own publishing objectives in terms of price and print quality. And, as with everything in life, there are always associated costs to consider and practical decisions that have to be made.

Types of Book Printing Processes

There are three main types of book printing formats: Print On Demand printing, Short run digital printing and Offset printing.

Print On Demand
Print on demand (also referred to as POD printing) is a digital printing process that produces books on an ‘as needed’ basis – even for a single printed book. When a customer orders a book title, the copy is printed on demand, bound, laminated, and then shipped directly to them. In this way, Print on Demand is a process which makes it possible to publish books only as they are needed in response to a customer’s order. As a result, Print On Demand offers authors the freedom to publish their book without having to store any inventory (i.e. printed copies of their book) and thus removes the costs associated with storage and handling.

Short Run Digital Printing
Short run digital printing is a cost-effective method for self-publishing authors to order smaller print runs than would normally be possible via traditional offset printing.

Unlike offset printing, digital printing does not have the upfront expenses associated with the creation of printing plates or time-consuming set-up processes. This ensures that the unit cost of each book is relatively low and hence an affordable option for printing less than 1,000 copies.

Offset Printing
Offset printing is a printing process which involves using a sequence of rollers (also called cylinders or drums) to deliver ink to the paper surface. This printing format is cost effective for large print runs (over 1,000 printed copies) and produces very high-quality printed books. Offset printing is effective for any book size, paper type and cover style (i.e. paperback or hardback).