If you’re wondering how to get your nonfiction book printed and bound in the most cost-effective way, this article is for you. But first, here’s some background:
Prior to the development of high-speed, print-on-demand digital presses, the only way to produce print runs cost-effectively was to use the more traditional, analog offset presses. But the only way to get a low cost per unit was to commit to costly high-volume print runs.
With the popularity of the nascent self-publishing industry in the early to mid-90s, equipment manufacturers realized that a new solution was needed. Today, digital technology has improved to the point of being able to produce high-quality images that are cost effective at low volumes and nearly indistinguishable from the quality standards of offset printing.
The first company out of the block to adopt high-speed technology on a massive scale was Ingram, with Amazon coming second. Being the first mover in the field, Ingram has managed to retain the most flexible, option-rich and cost-effective advantage over all other competitors.
Through its subsidiary, IngramSpark, Ingram offers independent authors the most flexibility for printing and binding as well as generous volume discounts. They operate print-on-demand facilities in several countries around the world, offering authors the ability to have books printed, bound and shipped directly to local markets.
Let’s break down their printing options in detail so that you can cost out your book.
(Note to readers: even though I advise authors to print their books using IngramSpark’s printing services, I receive no compensation, finder fees or affiliate commissions of any kind for my recommendation).
IngramSpark offers two types of binding that are ideal for nonfiction authors: perfect-binding for paperback books and case-binding for hardcovers.
Perfect Bound Binding Option
If you’re printing a paperback edition of your book, then you need to pick the Perfect Bound choice. This type of binding consists of gluing all book pages together at the spine and then gluing on top a full-color soft card-stock printed book cover that wraps around the book.
Case Laminate Binding Option
If you’re printing a hardcover edition, then you need to choose Case Laminate binding. Here the pages are also glued together at the spine but instead of wrapping around a soft card stock cover, your book will be wrapped in a hard cardboard cover.
Book Cover Options
Ingram offers two types of book cover options:
Paperback Book Cover
This is a full color book cover printed on card stock that’s glued to the perfect-bound body of your book. This cover is trimmed with a guillotine to fit exactly within the edges of your book block.
Hardcovers offer two types of cover options: full-color laminated printed book cover glued to the hard cardboard, or a dust jacket (a thin card-stock cover loosely wrapped around the book with flaps to hold it in place.)
IngramSpark offers three types of textures for your book cover: matte, gloss and digital cloth.
The matte option results in a full-color book cover that feels smooth to the touch but has no glare.
This option produces a book cover that provides a smooth, durable high gloss finish.
This is an option for hardcover books only – it consists of a synthetic “faux cloth” material that is glued directly onto the hard boards. This option is ideal for books with a dust jacket.
IngramSpark offers a large number of trim sizes, covering most applications. Here are the available choices (the most popular ones are shown in bold)
Paperback Trim Sizes
4 x 6” (154 x 102mm)
4 x 7” (178 x 102mm)
4.25 x 7” (178 x 108mm)
4.37 x 7” (178 x 111mm)
4.72 x 7.48” (190 x 120mm)
5 x 7” (178 x 127mm)
5 x 8” (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81” (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8” (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.25” (210 x 140mm)
5.5 x 8.5” (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27” (210 x 148 mm)
6 x 9” (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21” (234 x 156mm)
6.5 x 6.5” (165 x 165 mm)
6.625 x 10.25” (260 x 168mm)
6.69 x 9.61” (244 x 170 mm)
7 x 10” (254 x 178 mm)
7.44 x 9.69” (246 x 189mm)
7.5 x 9.25” (235 x 191mm)
8 x 8” (203 x 203mm)
8 x 10” (254 x 203mm)
8 x 10.88” (276 x 203mm)
8.25 x 10.75” (273 x 210mm)
8.25 x 11” (279 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693” (297 x 210mm)
8.5 x 8.5” (216 x 216mm)
8.5 x 9” (229 x 216mm)
8.5 x 11” (280 x 216m)
Hardcover Trim Sizes
5 x 8″ (203 x 127 mm) Case Laminate/Digital Cloth/Dust Jacket
5.5 x 8.5″ (216 x 140mm) Case Laminate/Digital Cloth/Dust Jacket
5.83 x 8.27″ (210 x 148 mm) Case Laminate Only
6 x 9″ (229 x 152mm) Case Laminate/Digital Cloth/Dust Jacket
6.14 x 9.21″ (234 x 156mm) Case Laminate/Digital Cloth/Dust Jacket
6.69 x 9.61″ (244 x 170 mm) Case Laminate Only
7 x 10″ (254 x 178 mm) Case Laminate Only
7.5 x 9.25″ (235 x 191) Case Laminate Only
8 x 8″ (203 x 203) Case Laminate Only
8 x 10″ (254 x 203mm) Case Laminate Only
8 x 10.88″ (276 x 203) Case Laminate Only
8.25 x 10.75″ (273 x 210) Case Laminate Only
8.5 x 8.5″ (216 x 216) Case Laminate Only
8.5 x 11″ (280 X 216mm) Case Laminate Only
IngramSpark offers three types of paper options, depending on your application:
Creme paper is an off-white paper stock that’s ideal for hardcover memoirs, historical nonfiction and for other books that have all text with no images. This paper tint affords books with a more traditional “old-fashioned” look and feel.
For this application, IngramSpark uses 50 lb paper stock and they only allow black and white printing.
There are two types of white paper available:
- 50 lb weight, ideal for black and white and standard color printing
- 70 lb weight, which can only be used for standard color or premium color printing (the latter offers more vivid color for a richer look, ideal for photographic or art books)
Sample Book Prices
Book printing costs vary according to your trim size and the number of pages in your book.
Given the many available options, the best way to get an accurate printing quote is to use IngramSpark’s calculator, but here are some typical choices for reference:
- A 200-page black & white paperback-bound book with a 5 x 8 inch trim size on 50 lb paper and a gloss cover will cost $3.66 per copy
- A 250-page black & white paperback-bound book with a 5.5 x 8.5 inch trim size on 50 lb creme paper and a matte cover will cost $4.29 per copy
- A 200-page black & white digital cloth hardcover-bound book with a 6 x 9 inch trim size on 50 lb white paper and a glossy dust jacket will cost $8.31 per copy
- A 250-page black & white case laminate hardcover with a 6 x 9 inch trim size on 50 lb white paper and a glossy cover will cost $8.94 per copy
- A 120-page premium color case laminate hardcover with an 8 x 8 inch trim size on 70 lb white paper and a glossy cover will cost $16.87 per copy
There are many discount levels depending on your total book order. As an example, if you order 1,000 copies you’ll get an additional 40% discount off the unit cost.
Although IngramSpark offers most cost effective and flexible printing options for self-publishing nonfiction authors, in order to produce a quality product they require that you follow a rather strict set of file submission guidelines.
For best results, this should ideally be handled by your book and cover designer to eliminate the frustrating troubleshooting of highly technical submission errors.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about how to excel in the writing craft be sure to check out my free nonfiction writing guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.
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Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.