Why do print-on-demand (POD) book printing costs matter? The cost to print your POD book is instrumental in determining your book’s retail price and calculating royalties—both of which can affect your overall profit. There are many factors that affect your printing costs.
Choosing your book specs will influence more than just the aesthetics of your book. The more expensive your book is to produce, the higher your retail price has to be to make a profit. A small paperback novel with no interior color will cost less than a hardcover book with a full-color interior and a dust jacket.
POD book printing costs are usually determined by a per-cover charge plus a per-page charge. This per-page charge makes your book’s page count instrumental in the cost per book.
But while page count is integral to your per-book cost, it’s not something you’ll know until your book has been fully formatted. That means all printing cost calculations you do before you know your final page count (determined after your book’s been laid out) are estimations rather than exact quotes.
The best way to “guesstimate” your page count is to assume 250 to 300 words to a page. Divide your final word count (or the word count you’re aiming for) by 250 or 300 to arrive at your page count estimate. While your per-page word count may change depending on choices made during your interior layout, this initial calculation is a good place to start. If your book has photographs, illustrations, or graphs, you’ll want to increase your page count accordingly.
Your book format refers to two things: type of book and interior color. Your type of book choices are paperback or hardcover, and your interior color choices are black and white, standard color, or premium color.
Keep in mind that if you’d like to include even one image or piece of text in color, your entire interior will have to be printed in color. If you’d like to print your book in color, POD printing offers two options: standard and premium color.
Standard color printing, which uses inkjet technology, is best for small touches of color throughout a book. It’s the more economical color print option. Because inkjet technology offers a more consistent, higher-quality ink than the traditional black-and-white toner printer, it’s also recommended to help achieve dynamic results for titles featuring elements with significant shading, like black-and-white photographs, illustrations, or tables.
Premium color printing, on the other hand, uses digital color print engine technology, or laser printing, to offer superior color quality. For books with fully illustrated color interiors, like children’s books or photography books, premium color is your best option. However, the rich, vibrant colors you get with premium color do come with a higher price tag.
Trim sizes are factored into POD printing costs because paperbacks and hardcover books are split into “small” and “large” categories for the POD printer we work with. Your trim size selection will affect the per-cover charge in the per-cover and per-page print cost calculation. Trim size will also influence how many words you can fit on a page, and therefore how many pages your book will have.
The most common trim sizes are 5 x 8, 5.5 x 8.5, and 6 x 9. You can explore the other trim sizes we offer on our POD trim sizes page.
The paper weight refers to the thickness of a book’s interior paper stock. POD printing offers one weight for black-and-white printing (50#) and two weights for color printing (50# and 70#). The 50# paper is a standard weight, acceptable for black-and-white or standard color printing. The 70# paper is thicker, and allows for better saturation of printing ink, making it the better option for color interiors.
Your book cover will be printed in a 4-color (CMYK) format regardless of the interior ink you choose. The cover can be finished in a gloss or matte lamination, with no effect on book printing costs.
Paperback books have a wraparound cover made of stiff, laminated cardstock. Although this cardstock is stiffer than interior paper, it’s flexible, which is why paperbacks are often referred to as “softcovers.”
Hardcover books offer a wider range of options: a printed case laminate or a cloth case wrap with a printed dust jacket.
With a case laminate cover, your cover design will be printed directly on the hardcover boards. Textbooks and children’s books, for example, often have case laminate covers.
For a cloth case wrap, your book’s hardcover boards will be wrapped in a gray or blue cloth. Rather than printing your cover design on this cloth, information about your book, including its title and author name(s), will be stamped on the book’s spine in a shiny foil. With a cloth case wrap cover, you may also opt to have your book wrapped in a dust jacket, which is a removable paper cover where your cover design will be printed with a gloss or matte finish.
POD printing offers two types of binding, based on the format of your book.
The standard binding option for paperback books is perfect bound. This binding method uses a warm, adhesive glue to secure interior pages to the book’s soft cover, and is a flexible but durable bind that will stand the test of time. Most softcover books are perfect bound, but books with low page counts can be saddle stitched or stapled.
The standard binding option for hardcover books is adhesive casebound. This binding method combines the economy of perfect-bound pages with the protection of a hardcover case.