Short-Run Book Printing

This post provides links and descriptions of websites with short run book printing services.

The Purpose of Your Book

Most writers dream on phenomenal success with millions of books purchased around the world. However, from time to time, you may only want to print a small number of books to commemorate a special occasion or family event. Even printing your electronic work (ebooks, blog posts, articles, etc.) as a book can be a nice way to archive your writing, both for your reference and posterity. I wrote about this as a way to celebrate the completion of writing challenges: My 500 Words and Writing 1,000 words per day.

After a family trip to South Korea in 2012, I created a photo book. I wanted to include stories from our trip and history about the country as well as photos. The result was a book which I gave to a few select family members (who would be interested in the content). I printed a total of four books.

Publishing on Amazon’s KDP Platform

This month I published a book on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Story Secrets from Scripture is about how to develop and deliver children’s stories for worship, vacation Bible school, and Bible study. The book covers how to find personal stories, assign teaching points, and tell these stories live. Story Secrets from Scripture is available in print and Kindle ebook formats.

As with all books on the KDP platform, the print version is printed on-demand, when copies are ordered. Even with print on-demand, the books are available for Prime, 2-day free shipping.

Short-Run Book Printing

Several companies offer book printing services. Many of these expect large quantities of books to be ordered. Offset printing technology has extensive costs and labor related to the setup, which is the same for 1 book or 5,000 books. However, quick printing technology can minimize many of these setup costs.

Below are two lists of book printers. The companies on the first list allow you to print a minimum of one copy. The second list of companies generally require 24 or more books as a minimum.

The estimated prices are based on a 8.5-inch by 5.5-inch, 248-page book with black-and-white interior printing and a glossy color cover. All of these require a PDF of the interior pages, formatted to the selected print size, and a separate PDF of the cover, formatted to the companies specifications.

List 1: Minimum Quantity = 1

Amazon KDP. Cost = $3.83 for 1 copy.
Amazon merged the CreateSpace and Kindle publishing options into Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). With KDP, your book is available on the platforms you select. However, just because a book is available on Amazon doesn’t mean it will sell. Marketing and promotion is essential for sales. If you have a small book project, you could publish it through KDP and order copies as you need them.

Lulu. Cost = $4.52 for 1 copy.
I have used Lulu on multiple occasions to print small quantities of books. Lulu offers a variety of sizes, paper qualities, and cover options.

TheBookPatch. Cost = $7.70 for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. The Book Patch offers a variety of services including e-book creation, ISBNs, and author services.

Blurb. Cost = $5.23 for Economy, $11.71 for Standard, for 1 copy.
I have not used this site. Blurb appears similar to Lulu in terms of printing options.

List 2: Minimum Quantity (approx 25)

DiggyPOD. Cost = $273.85 for 25 (10.95 per book).
48hrBooks. Cost = $246.65 for 25 (9.87 per book).
PublishingXpress. Cost = $435.92 for 25 (17.43 per book).
GorhamPrinting. Cost = $196.36 for 25 (7.85 per book).

Conclusion

By far, Amazon has the lowest cost per book for short-run publishing. With Amazon, you do have to publish the book to print it without a “not for resale” banner on the cover. However, you can always unpublish a book after a short-run printing, if desired.

If I want to publish books to sell, I use Amazon. If I have very short-run books like those from my writing challenges, I prefer to use Lulu because I can mark the books as private.