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Book Printing Layout: How to Save Money

Jun 30, 2008
"The way I lay out my book can have an impact on my final printing cost?" In a one-word answer: Yes!

Printers print pages in blocks, called signatures. A 32-page signature is most common, so if your page count is divisible by 32, that's the most economical option possible. However, the general rule of thumb is to try to not print less than a quarter signature of 8 pages. So if your book is 266 pages, see if you can drop a couple pages to get it down to 264. You'll definitely notice the cost savings for the print run.

So what are some of the tricks to adjust the number of pages? First of all, see if you can adjust your margins slightly. Slight changes probably are not noticeable to most readers, but the price difference will definitely be noticeable to you.

Adjust the leading (space between lines). A very small adjustment might be barely visible to the average reader, but it could result in dropping a few pages from your book -- saving you money on your print run.

However, before spending too much time worrying about your page count, talk to your printer. It may be that the price difference isn't worth the hassle of adjusting your layout (although it probably is). Also, if you're using a digital press, you don't need to worry about page counts since they don't use signatures. Other presses may use unusual signature breaks as well.

One last area that can save money on the print run is by rethinking the trim size of the book. Too many times I've seen customers insist on a specific print size when adjusting it by 1/4" or 1/2" would save them quite a bit of money. Why is that? Because different trim sizes are set up differently on different presses. A trim size that works well on one press might generate a lot of paper waste on another press. And guess who pays for that extra paper waste - you!

So be sure to always ask your printer (before you finish the design and layout) if there is a more economical print size than what you have in mind. It might save you more money than you would expect!
About the Author
Josh Prizer has worked in book publishing for nearly 15 years and is a cheap book printing expert. For a Free 7-Part Mini-Course on how to publish your own book, visit his web site.
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