When a book is ‘sent to the printer’, it will be printed and bound, but not necessarily in the same building. Please review the printing and binding sections below and feel free to contact us if you have any questions. There is a lot to learn about printing and binding a book, and you probably don’t need to know it all, but it is important to have a basic understanding, and to work with people whom you trust.
How much does it cost?
So how much does it cost to print a book? A very gross estimate is that a 100 page perfect-bound book with black & white interior pages, and a colour cover coated with UV protection, costs approximately $5-10 to print. Prices are dependent on many factors including the ever-fluctuating price of paper, business overhead, time of year, etc.
It is now 2022. It has been several years since Webb Publishing has worked with a traditional (non-digital) printer. At this point in the publishing game, 99.9% of books are printed using digital printers.
If the above terminology confuses you, you’re not alone. In simplest terms, the reason that publishing has become so accessible over the past few years is that digital printing technology (computer technology) has advanced sufficiently that we are now able to print single copies of books on high quality digital printers (“think ‘fancy photocopier’”). Gone are the days of having to invest thousands of dollars to print enough books to warrant using a traditional printer.
A traditional printer is the type of printing process that was used by newspapers and the original printing companies. There were a few types of printing presses but basically, printing used to require the process of developing negatives (pictures of each page), then using plates, inks and skilled personnel to use large, expensive printing presses to apply inks to paper. You may have heard the term off-set web press, lithograph, etc. The cost to print a small quantity of books via traditional press is prohibitive. It was only cost effective (and still is) when printing a large run of books. The quality of a traditional press is arguably superior to its digital successor. In this type of printing, inks are soaked into the paper, providing a more durable and finer finish than is possible with digital printing (though this point is very debatable).
Digital printing, laser printing, print on-demand…. these are terms that refer to high quality commercial grade laser printers. Think ‘a $150,00 version of my home printer’.
Printing terminology and options
Typically we use standard quality paper to print interior pages, along with a thicker paper for the cover. Estimates for higher quality or speciality papers are available upon request. If photographs are a significant feature of a book, we prefer to use a higher quality paper for the interior pages. This type of paper often has a smoother finish, which provides greater clarity of the images.
UV Coating; Lamination
Books covers may need to be coated with either laminate or UV coating (a sprayed-on product) to prevent the cracking of solid inks along the spine and folds of digitally-printed books. Virtually all book printers use one or the other product.
Webb Publishing is pleased to provide quotes on both soft cover and hard cover book-binding. We will attempt to explain the most common varieties of binding available.
The term ‘perfect-bound’ refers to the soft-cover book that is known in the industry as a ‘quality trade paperback’. It is a thicker white paper that is scored and hot-glued to the spine of the book. These are not the old-school ‘paperbacks’ that crammed lightweight buff-coloured paper between an easily-torn cover. Perfect binding is the most common form of binding today, with probably 95% of all Webb Publishing titles using this technique. The minimum number of pages required to perfect-bind a book is approximately 60 pages.
Coil-Bound: Plastic or Metal
Coil-binding is a terrific way to get a book to lie flat. Often used for cookbooks, manuals, and calendars, coil-binding is a good alternative for books with a lower page-count. The binding materials comes in a variety of colours, in both plastic and metal, and looks professional when used in the right circumstances.
Hard cover binding can be 10 times more expensive than perfect-binding (think $3 vs $30 per book). There are a variety of qualities of hard cover binding available. Binding companies tend to specialize in one or two varieties of stitching – some will saddle-stitch together ‘signatures’ (ie: 8, 16 or 32-page inserts) together, and some glue together a stack of individual pages. There are different qualities of ‘board’ used in the process, and there are a variety of qualities of paper, fabrics and leather with which the hard board is covered. Some hard cover books are left plain and covered with dust covers (aka dust jackets), and some hard cover books have the full colour cover glued right onto the hard board. This type of binding is usually reserved for special editions (ie: re-binding a family Bible, or possibly binding one or two books in this fashion as special gifts).
This type of binding refers to stapling one edge of a stack of pages. Usually 2 or 3 staples are ‘stitched’ into the left-hand-side of a pile of individual pieces of paper. It’s not generally an option for a professional book. The main thing to keep in mind is that side-stitching refers to a pile of loose papers stapled together, whereas saddle-stitching refers to…….
Saddle-stitching refers to stapling together large pieces of paper in the middle of the paper, and then folding the stitched paper into two pages along the spine. Think of the stitches as ‘saddling’ (or ‘straddling’) the pages. This binding is frequently used for manuals and smaller-page-count children’s books.
There are other types of soft-cover binding available, notably ‘invisible coil binding’, where the book appears to be a regular perfect-bound book, but when it’s open, a coil is visible inside. This binding is being used more frequently in cookbooks.