Book Printing: Seeking Quality, Service, and Price

Experiencing Printer Pricing Sticker Shock

This year my client asked me to bid out the annual casebound book job to a number of book printers. She had a new boss, and she wanted to show due diligence, making a case that the book printer was still cost-effective.

Unfortunately, the printer’s prices had risen. Why? Because he had disposed of an antiquated press. Oddly enough, this short-run (1,000 copies), black-text-only, 8.5” x 10.875” book had fit exactly on this particular press, which had accommodated 64-page signatures. Printing the long casebound book in 64-page signatures rather than 32-page signatures had yielded a phenomenal price (due to the reduced number of makereadies and press runs needed to produce the project). Unfortunately, for a press run this short, it was not possible for the printer to provide the same discount on the new equipment.

Switching Paper Is an Option

Since some of the print suppliers had ready access to the printing paper I had specified, and some did not (i.e., it was a house stock for only some of the printers, so they could buy it in bulk at a discount), I opened my mind to alternative stocks. Many of the printers’ estimates had noted the specific press sheet they had chosen as an alternative stock. Some had not, only noting the weight and caliper of the paper. So I asked for clarification.

To avoid show-through from one side of a page to the other, I had specified a 60# opaque sheet. I did some research online to make sure that the opacity, caliper, smoothness, and brightness of any paper that any of the printers had substituted would be adequate for my client’s book. Since it is an annual publication, I wanted to avoid any sense of lowered quality on any of these specs.