How Self-Publishing Companies Mark-Up Book Printing Costs

(And why Mill City Press chooses not to participate in that nonsense.)

So far, none of our competitors have attempted to imitate our wholesale printing costs for authors. It’s been five years and still nothing. At Mill City Press you always pay the wholesale cost for printing. While printing cost matters in every print run, it really matters most when you have a small print run (under 500).

Ever wonder why so many self-published books have ridiculously high retail prices? It’s because the publisher has artificially inflated the book printing “costs” so much, that it’s forcing authors to create a nonsensical retail price. Some self-publishing companies are pricing their authors right out of the book market!

When you see how much you’ll save just in book printing costs by choosing Mill City Press, you won’t believe it. We’re extremely proud of that. But, don’t take our word for it. Look at what others are doing.

Almost every self-publishing company uses one of two printers for purely print-on-demand book printing (as opposed to short run digital). That’s why it’s easy to know what other book publishers pay for print-on-demand book printing. We all use the same pricing sheet.

Below is a chart that details how much you’d pay at Mill City Press compared to some other publishers in printing a copy of the exact same book. The example book is a 200 page, 5.5 x 8.5 paperback, with a laminated, full color cover that costs a self-publishing company about $3.90 to print ($0.015 per page plus $0.90 per cover). Again, we are all using the same printer and the same pricing sheet.


Publisher Actual Print Cost of 200 page, 5.5 x 8.5. paperback Cost at which Author can purchase books from Publisher Printing profit Publisher makes per book printed Profit Publisher makes when 100 books are printed.
Mill City Press $3.90 $3.90 $0.00 $0.00
iUniverse $3.90 $8.77* $4.87 $487.00 $3.90 $8.50** $4.60 $460.00
Xlibris $3.90 $10.00*** $6.10 $610.00


Wow.  We’ve known about these unbelievable book printing markups for years and it’s still shocking to see in writing.

We’ve provided all the links to each publisher’s pricing methods and calculators. You’ll see that by using a 100 book order in the chart above, we were generous to some publishers. The numbers look even worse for really small print runs.

Mill City Press believes that the author should be the one who profits from their book sales, not the publisher.

At Mill City Press, you always pay the wholesale price for printing.

* iUniverse

45% of list price of book for 100 books based on a retail price of $15.95.  The retail price is the median retail price required by iUniverse for a 200 page book. See:

If an author was printing 1-24 copies the cost to them would be $11.16 per book. For 24-49 copies it’s $10.37. For 50-99 copies it’s $9.57.

** and (calculator).

***Xlibris If an author was printing 1-9 copies the cost to them would be $13.99 per book. For 10-24 copies it’s $12.99. For 25-49 copies it’s $11.99. And, for 50-99 copies, it’s $10.99 per book.

NOTE: The book printing fees above were current as of 1/2012. Publishers' book printing fees are subject to change at any time.



We believe every book should have a chance to compete in the marketplace. To ensure that, we combine our knowledge and experience in traditional book publishing with innovative book marketing. We provide real advice and help every step of the way.

  • Wholesale printing costs on any size book order
  • Opportunities for traditional book distribution
  • 100% royalties (after third-party retailers' fees)
  • Use our ISBN or yours
  • In-house editorial, production, and retailer sales teams
  • Patented ebook conversion and distribution
  • We won't sell you what you don't need or can't use
  • Real-time sales, royalty, and inventory reporting
  • Complete transparency - every fee is disclosed up front and we encourage you to read our contract
Learn more about Mill City Press Compare Our Publishing Packages Request a Self Publishing Information Packet Read our Book Publishing Author Contract Speak with a Book Publishing Specialist