It’s always a challenge to start something new, whether you’re self-publishing a debut novel, or jumping into a marketing campaign. There’s always the risk that things won’t go exactly as planned, and that all the time, effort, and money you poured into the project will go down the drain.
When it comes to printing new untested publications or marketing material, the resources you invest can constitute a pretty big risk. Fortunately, if you play it smart, you minimize risk and free yourself up to try out something fresh.
No matter what kind of project you have planned, you can reduce the initial investment by having it printed in a short run. By printing a smaller batch to start out with, you’ll have an opportunity to test out the final product before you go all in. You could print five hundred copies of your book to distribute to local bookstores, one hundred copies of a special edition to sign, or just one, as a prototype.
The Benefits of Short Run Printing
Short-run printing works differently to traditional methods and comes with its own advantages. It’s faster, cheaper, and more forgiving in the event of a mistake. Because short printing runs usually employ newer methods than traditional offset printing, it’s also quickly evolving in terms of quality and efficiency.
Offset printing involves transferring ink from a plate to a rubber roller, which in turn transfers ink to the paper that’s being printed on. Because of this, offset printing is still more efficient than digital printing for large runs, usually over one thousand copies. Making plates for the project is expensive, though, and that cost is high enough that it’s much more efficient to print short runs digitally. Digital printing doesn’t require plates, which makes it significantly cheaper overall for producing short runs.
Creating plates is time-consuming, especially for longer works. Digital printing allows for turnaround times measured in days, not weeks. Faster printing also makes it feasible to print even longer projects out in their entirety for proofing rather than requiring you to meet with the printer after each section of your book is printed to proof each in turn. The quick turnaround is especially useful for prototyping because it will allow you to iterate on your design with less lag time between versions.
Not only does the speedier printing offered by a digital press allow for errors to be identified sooner, but the digital format that the press works from makes it easier to address errors when they happen. There are no plates to change, so fixing issues is as easy as editing the project’s original file.
Digital printing doesn’t rely on the same mechanical process as offset, either, which can make it easier to print items with irregular shapes or other unique attributes. The versatility of short run book printing is remarkable, and if your project needs to be highly customized, it may be the better option for that reason alone.
When to Go With Short Run Book Printing
If you’re not sure whether your project is better suited for a short or a long printing run, have no fear! We’ll go over the popular uses for short run printing and some important things to consider about each one.
Short Run Book Printing
There was a time when aspiring authors either needed to make a deal with an established publisher or invest an enormous amount of money in printing and distributing their own books. Now, it’s possible to self publish without spending a small fortune doing it.
Printing a short run of your book will give you an opportunity to see how it looks and feels, and how it sells on a smaller scale before you take any major steps. For self-publishing authors, it’s especially important to act carefully and try things out before spending more than you have to.
Most self-published authors don’t have the same industry experience as a professional publishing house, but they’re still competing with traditionally published books. It’s important to take every advantage available.
Most printers should have the skills and tools necessary for trade short run book printing, but it’s still important to choose the right people to work with. It’s a good idea to get in contact with a printer and ask them what kinds of work they specialize in before approaching them directly with your project.
If your project is smaller than a book, like a pamphlet, a manual, or a concert program, short-run printing is probably the only reasonable option. Unlike wholesale books short-run informational materials require less planning and proofing, meaning that their entire production cycle can be much faster. Making plates for short works like those mentioned above only makes sense if they’re being produced by the thousands, which generally isn’t the case.
The ability to prototype quickly and efficiently is one of the greatest advantages that short-run printing can provide if your project is meant to sell something to somebody. It’s easy to get a small run printed and test those materials on a small sample of your intended audience, then iterate on the project until it proves effective.
Short runs are also suited to marketing materials meant to sell a limited edition product or meant to be sent to only a specific audience, for example, those subscribed to a certain trade magazine.
How to Get Started
If your project is already prepared for printing, then all you have to do is find a trade printer that you know will do a good job. TNO Bindery has been in the trade printing and binding business for over 29 years. If you are looking for short run book printing then contact us today! We work with printers, graphic designers, and publishers from all over the country and are ready to work with you to get your short-run book project off the ground!