It’s estimated that paper makes up roughly 40-60% of the total cost of printing a book. This makes paper choice incredibly important for buyers.
In our experience, many people go with what they have been using for a while or maybe their knowledge of paper is limited so they go with what they know.
These strategies may not always be the most economical approaches for achieving a desired result. Check out some of these tips for saving money on paper.
Coated vs Un-coated Book Paper
Coated book paper is very nice but it is also more costly than un-coated paper. Buyers generally like coated sheets because graphics and images render very well on them. They also convey a high degree of professionalism and quality.
It used to be that coated paper was the way to go because un-coated stocks were inferior and couldn’t produce the same quality in terms of the presentation of images and graphics. Coated paper was originally developed as a solution to dot gain.
With advancements in paper manufacturing technology, un-coated smooth papers are now a viable substitute for coated stocks. Graphics and images can look just as appealing on a smooth un-coated paper as they do on a coated stock.
The Cheapest Paper isn’t Always the Best for Your Book
For some titles, a publisher may opt for a ground-wood sheet which is one of the least expensive book papers on the market.
It can be tempting to do this, however, keep in mind that some printers charge penalties for using lower quality papers because of the indirect costs related to their use on manufacturing equipment.
For instance ground-wood stocks can cause excess scum on printing blankets or they can be difficult to fold causing the job to take more time. You could end up paying the same price as you would had you selected a higher quality paper.
In general, the expense of paper from most to least will be coated, acid-free, free-sheet (non-ground-wood and non-acid-free sheet) and ground-wood.
Try to Use Standard Book Paper Sizes
Book manufacturers operate within market demand in order to remain competitive and efficient. When it comes to book paper, this means only stocking sheet sizes that get used on a regular basis.
Keeping every kind of paper measurement in stock simply is not practical and pretty much any printer will make a custom paper size for you. The only caveat here is that it will cost you extra. Sometimes this is unavoidable and a publisher must have a specific paper measurement or things won’t work.
Other times though, there may be some room to play and if you choose a floor sheet that a printer carries, this should save you some money on your paper purchase. Making custom paper sizes involves extra time and extra equipment which drives the cost up.
Lighter Papers Cost Less Than Heavy Papers
While this is not a rule set in stone, in general it is true. Naturally you shouldn’t (and many publishers can’t) just go out and choose the thinnest possible book paper for their titles however it should be something to consider.
This won’t save you a huge chunk of money, but combined with other cost saving measures, it all adds up, right? If at all possible, try going with a thinner sheet of paper over a heavier one.
Yes I know this isn’t technically a “savings on paper tip” and being a printer, we naturally want our customers to buy more print not less.
That being said, we also want our customers to maintain a healthy business and sometimes printing less (even though that means higher unit costs) can save you money on obsolete or unsold inventory down the road.
Case studies have shown that printing smaller quantities can help save publishers money over time should they inaccurately predict market demand for a title. This isn’t always a practical scenario, but if you can pull it off, you should.
So, to review a little, the following tactics will help you save money on book paper as well as your overall print job:
- Use uncoated sheets where ever you can do it appropriately.
- Don’t automatically go for the cheapest paper.
- Try to use standard sizes where possible.
- Use lighter stocks where possible.
- Print less
How do you save money on your paper costs when printing a title? Is paper a flexible choice for you?