How to Determine the Best Printing Method
You’ve written and edited your book, prepped your files, and now you’re ready to send it to print! Even after you’ve checked off all those boxes, you may have another significant decision between digital and offset printing. So, what’s the best printing method? Whether you’re publishing a full-color hardcover children’s book or black and white softcover, it’s essential to know your print production options and how they could affect your budget, timeline, and, most of all, the successful sale of your books.
Before short-run digital printing, printers typically leaned on offset printing. It was, and still is, the most efficient method of printing both color and black and white interiors for longer print runs. Offset printing produces high-quality books at lower costs per unit, so it is more suitable for most print runs over 500 copies.
Digital Short-Run Printing
Digital printing allows authors to reduce inventory and personalize individual copies. A short-run digital workflow helps improve speed-to-market, which is extremely important when production turnaround times are extended.
- Short-Runs—Digital printing typically works better when the print quantities are below 500.
- Inventory Management—Digital printing results in effective print management because it only prints what you need and removes bulk stock.
- Quick Turnaround—There is minimal press and binding setup, allowing for rapid turnaround times.
Large-Run Offset Printing
Offset printing uses larger, sheet-fed presses. This provides a consistent, rich color. If you’re printing over 500 copies, using offset printing is typically the more affordable option.
- Longer print runs—With offset printing, increases in quantity lower the cost per copy.
- Larger Format—Offset presses work with larger paper sizes. For example, a 40” press can accommodate approximately 28” x 40” sheet size. These same papers may not be available in sizes that fit digital presses.
- Specialized Colors and Cover Finishes—Offset presses can print Pantone colors and use gloss/dull varnishes on covers and dust jackets for added textures and various finishes.
How to decide between digital and offset printing
- How big is the project?—Offset printing works to your advantage if your project is large enough to overcome the front-end costs, typically over 500 copies.
- Do you need books in a hurry?—Do you have an event, or are you critically low on inventory? Digital short-run lead times are usually less than half the time of an offset run.
- What paper does the project require?—Digital printing can print on many substrates but offset still has an advantage.
- How much color and what type?—Short-run digital color is still relatively expensive but may be the best answer for basic four-color in low quantities. If a color match is essential, you will want to go with offset.
Your CHG sales representative will work with you to determine the best print and finishing solution to meet your needs to assure a successful outcome.
About Color House Graphics
At Color House Graphics, our service capabilities provide countless options. We offer print solutions for both small and large projects. Our short-run digital service will help you better control your inventory, allowing you to print what you need when you need it. Transitioning to large-run offset printing is cost-effective and straightforward if you need more copies. Click here to request a quote for your next print project, or email us.
Color House Graphics has been a leading print provider for over 35 years, serving authors and publishers nationwide. Whether you’re publishing softcover, children’s, or high-end coffee table books, we have the support and solutions you’ll need. Learn more about our company at www.colorhousegraphics.com