What Type of Printing Should You Use for a Kickstarter Book Project?

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Note: This article is part of a series on Book Printing for Kickstarter. See more on our Kickstarter mainpage.

Choosing the perfect funding goal for your Kickstarter project can be a major factor in the success (or failure) of your campaign. And a big part of choosing that goal involves knowing how much your book will cost to print.

Obviously getting a great price is important, but keep in mind that you want to get the best quality, as well. Both of these factors will be greatly affected by the type of printing that you choose for your project.

Print on Demand versus Short Run Printing for Kickstarter

Print on demand (POD) has become a popular way for authors to print only the amount of books they need – as few as one at a time. While this way of printing certainly has a place (and we do a bit of it ourselves here at Colorwise), the model doesn’t tend to work particularly well for Kickstarter.

The primary reason is cost.

Printing books on demand can be an effective strategy if you are printing each book as you receive an order, but the unit cost of each book stays high for each copy, whereas if you print in a batch, the unit cost of each book decreases with every copy printed because of much of printing expense is contained in setup costs.

Short run printing is defined as a print run of a certain number of books. However, that number can vary widely, and the definition of short run can change depending on the company. Here at Colorwise, we typically think of short run as anywhere between 50 copies to 5,000 copies. Find out even more about POD and short run printing in our in-depth article on the matter.

Which Type of Printing Gives You Better Quality?

For most companies that strictly produce POD books, the biggest hindrance is the lack of options available for your book.

Because the unit cost is higher on POD books, many POD printers have limited print options available, as this saves on their setup costs. However, if you are printing a short run you will typically have full control to create the exact book you want.

At Colorwise, for instance, you can choose from numerous book type options (perfect bound, case bound, case wrapped, etc.) as well as many additional options like Smyth sewing, end bands, printed end sheets, spot varnish and many more.

Another place where print quality can suffer at POD printers is in consistency. For the same cost-savings reasons mentioned above, many POD companies automate as much as possible. While this allows them to produce few quantities at a time at a low price, it also can interfere with quality control is something goes wrong and no one catches it.

We’ve had multiple people call us to say they discovered a fault in the final product while using a large POD company and were not able to get in touch with the company to find a remedy to the solution. Of course, this also points out how some larger POD companies lack the personal service that we provide throughout the entirely of your printing experience.

How Much Does Short Run Printing Cost?

One reason many authors may think it best to use POD printing is because they will always know how much each copy will cost to print, while the unit price of short run printing varies by quantity.

However, if you get a custom quote for your short run print job, you can know your book cost and save money in the process. To do that, you’ll need to know what type of book you want to print, as well as how many copies you’ll need.

We’ve put together a few things to keep in mind to help determine both of those factors.

*Note that this is assuming you have no printed copies of your book yet and are using Kickstarter in part to cover printing costs.

1. Choose Your Book Style

In addition to different book binding options (including hardcover and paperback), you also can choose other features for your book. These other features can include size options, dust jackets, cover laminate and more.

The style you choose will depend on personal preference as well as the type of book. For instance, most of the art books we print are larger, full-color case wrapped books (hardcover) printed on gloss text paper stock, while most novels are printed with a soft cover on uncoated paper.

2. Determine How Many Copies You’ll Need

The number of books you require will obviously have to be considered in conjunction with your overall Kickstarter strategy.

Though it’s not the only strategy, many authors will only make a physical copy of the book available to those that give at higher reward levels. So while a pledge of $1 or $5 may get contributors a thank you email and/or a digital copy of the book, they may be required to pledge $50 or $60 to receive a hard copy.

Obviously you’ll want set the reward level that results in a book higher than the unit price of each book you print so you’re not losing money on your Kickstarter campaign.

While you can’t predict how many people will pledge at a level high enough to receive a book, you can use this to estimate how many books you’ll need. Give us a call at 888.664.8166 and we’ll be happy to work with you to determine what the unit cost will be per book so you’ll have a good idea of how much you need to raise and where to set your goal.

Since authors raising money for book printing probably won’t print until after their project is funded, we’re glad to give you a custom quote and ensure the quote you get from us will be honored once you are ready to print.

3. Get a Custom Quote

As far as that quote goes, we have a custom quote page where you can enter in all the specifications of your project and get a quote. We’d also be happy to discuss your project with you to make sure you get exactly what you want for the right price.