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Digital book printing vs offset: differences, advantages, and pricing

You decide how many books you want to print

Thanks to developments in digital book printing technology it’s now not only possible but also very affordable to do short print runs of any size you like. You can even print a single book at a time if you want. You can of course also print larger quantities if you want; starting from orders of 400 copies or more, we’ll switch over to traditional offset printing which will push the price per copy down even further.

Digital book printing or offset book printing?

When printing your books, magazines, and academic papers we make use of two different printing techniques: digital printing and offset printing. We won’t bore you with the technical details of these two methods, but simply put: digital printing, which is also known as print on demand (PoD) works pretty much as a home printer does, but on a larger scale. The files are sent from a computer and printed directly. Offset printing however, involves creating printing plates, which are used to transfer ink onto a rubber stamp which is then pressed onto the paper. This process is mechanical instead of digital. This means digital printing is well suited to short print runs, whereas offset printing is better suited to long print runs due to the higher start-up costs associated with the creation of printing plates. However, if you’re printing a high enough quantity of books, it will offset (excuse the pun) these initial costs. We’ll take a closer look at each of these methods below.

Digital book printing

If you opt for a short print run, you’re extremely flexible. Keeping your supply of books small means the financial risk is minimal. It also means you’re able to make changes to your cover and manuscript on the go and keep your book updated much more efficiently than if you had a lot of stock you needed to get rid of first. This is particularly interesting if your books is educational in nature, e.g. a textbook or training manual. This flexibility also allows for personalisation opportunities of things like your cover, for instance.

Digital book printing: lead times

We only work with printers that specialise in books and magazines. This means that not only will your books be of the very best quality, but that we have made great efforts to examine and optimise the process of book printing. The more modern and better organised the printing process, the better the quality of the book and the more efficient the printing and shipping process.

We know how important it is that books are printed and delivered quickly. On average, we print paperbacks within 2-3 work days, whereas hardbacks take 1-2 days longer. Delivery usually takes 1-2 days, meaning that you will usually be able to hold your printed book in your hands within a week of placing an order. Larger orders will be completed in comparable time, thanks to the efficiency of our PoD process.

What does it cost to print your book digitally?

Our ambition is to keep the price of printing single copies of books and magazines as low as possible. We want it to be possible for everyone to make and print their own book. What’s even better is that when ordering 3 copies or more, we’ll apply a cumulative bulk discount. 

Here’s an example using the following specs: A5, paperback, black & white, white paper, 60 pages:

1 - 23 - 910 - 4950 - 99100 - 249250 - 499500 +
Per book
Per book
Per book
Per book
Per book
Per book

As you can see, printing your book doesn’t have to cost you much at all, even if you just want a singly copy. Want to explore our pricing in more detail? Check out our price calculator. 

Offset print runs: lead times

An offset print run will always take longer than a digital print run. This is due to the fact that the printing plates have to be made, then these plates have to be mounted, and printer capacity has to be reserved for the job. This results in a lead time of 2-3 weeks, regardless of the size of the order. If you need a lot of books quickly, we’d recommend digital printing. If you need a lot of books but aren’t in a rush, then go for offset!

Offset print runs: pricing

The more books you print, the lower the price per copy will be, as you’d expect. The initial start-up costs of offset printing are relatively high (due to the aforementioned printing plates needing to be made and mounted). However, once that’s done, it’s a very efficient printing method and, if your order is big enough, the cost per copy will be noticeably lower than a digital print run of a similar size. This shift in cost-effectiveness usually occurs at around 400 copies, and that’s when you ought to switch from digital to offset printing. Interested in printing a big batch of books and curious what it would cost? Get in touch with us!

That’s all there is to it!

At 24bookprint we print the books you want, the way you want them. Paperback or hardback. A single copy or a thousand. Whether it’s a family history, a textbook, a thesis, a novel, or a cookbook; we’ll print it for you. We’re really proud of the quality of our books and of how easy it is to make them with our printing platform. The utmost care will be taken to ensure that your books make it to you and your customers as quickly as possible. If you need anything, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear your feedback!