The cost of printing may depend upon:
  • The print run
  • Type of binding
  • Amount of colors used
  • The cover
  • Thickness and quality of paper


It is generally cheaper per copy, if you print more copies. If you are only going to print a dozen copies, photocopying or using a computer printer may be the only cost effective options. If you plan to print several hundred, these options become cost prohibitive; and relatively inexpensive offset printing equipment may be more viable.

When you wish you print large quantities of large publications; smaller printing companies may simply not have the equipment to do the job. Your options may be reduced.

Printing costs tend to be affected by the number of times paper sheets go through a machine. If books or magazines are printed on very large sheets of paper, and then cut down to size, the overall cost may reduce. Books and magazines, for example are commonly printed on sheets that contain eight pages on each side (hence 16 pages are printed on each sheet; eight on the front and eight on the back. The sheets are then cut into 4 and folded once to give four pages on each folded sheet.

When a smaller printing press is used, it may only be possible to print four pages on each side; meaning the printing press will need to have paper run through it twice as much.

Printing in one color only requires paper to pass through a press once, but to print colour it will normally pass through a press four times (sometimes three).

Some printers specialise in particular types of documents, for example, a book specialist is likely to be able to print books cheaper than a magazine specialist and vice versa.

The type of binding
After printing, other costs are incurred by cutting, folding, binding and packing the printing. Less folding and cutting may incur less expense.

Newspapers are usually folded but not bound, making them cheaper to produce. Booklets, magazines or books have pages stuck together. Various types of binding may be used. Staples are perhaps the least expensive, but they are difficult to use for thick publications. Other forms of binding might use glue, a fibre or holes with plastic rings to hold pages together. The type and quality of binding can vary greatly; as can the cost. Some types of binding simply don’t withstand heavy use; and pages may fall out.

Some printers simply don’t have access to equipment to do a top quality job or to bind large quantities of pages.

Hard covers are obviously more expensive than soft covers. Colour on a cover will also increase a book’s cost. Sometimes a loose sleeve is fitted over the hard cover of a book: this is again further expense.

People will pay more for a hard cover book; and hard cover books will be more durable, but you must consider carefully what the subject matter is. Some types of books are simply not going to sell as a hard cover publication.

Thicker paper is more costly, as is glossy paper. A quality magazine needs to be on a thicker glossy paper. Quality colour photos do not reproduce well when printed on inexpensive newsprint paper.

You can make any publication seem bigger by using thicker paper. Coffee table books, fashion magazines, and other publications which trade on an image of quality will, and should, choose to print on thicker, high quality, glossy paper.

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