You might want to ask, “What does it cost to print 1,000 magazines, 5,000 magazines, 10,000 magazines, etc…?” and hope that you will get a quick answer, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The costs associated with printing any publication are tied to multiple factors, and in this article I will identify those factors and provide you with some helpful information, so you can find the best situation/deal for yourself (and not get taken advantage of by those evil printers .
How much does printing cost?
First, to get a complete and accurate cost, you should know the following facts about your job:
• Final Trim Size: The final size of your finished magazine after it is trimmed (i.e. 8 3/8 x 10 7/8):
This is not to be confused with the size of your files. You should note that dimensions are given in “width x height”. The easiest way to remember this is that the height is the side where the binding or spine is. So, if you provided a dimension of 10 7/8 x 8 3/8, this magazine would be bound on the 8 3/8 side and would look more like a landscape than a portrait view.
• Page Count – Number of pages you will be sending including covers:
This is not to be confused with the number of sheets of paper, or the number of spreads. Often, this can be a source of confusion and will lead to miscommunication. If you’re talking in sheets, while the estimator is talking in pages, you’re going to end up thinking that you got an incredible price…until your files come in! So, be sure you count each page- cover is page 1, inside cover is page 2, etc., until you get to the back cover which is your last page. One other way that you can communicate page count is to give a “+ cover” count, meaning that you provide the total number of inside pages + the 4 page cover (front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover, back cover). But for the sake of clarity, it’s always be best to say 64+4 or 68 total pages, etc.
• Paper – The weight, grade, and stock of the paper which your project will be printed on:
Paper Weight – Magazines can be printed on either the same type of paper on the inside pages and the cover, a style that is referred to as “self cover”, or a thicker paper on the cover pages and a thinner paper on inside pages (often referred to as the body or guts). There are many different paper weights and stocks to choose, I’ve listed them from the thinnest paper stocks to the thickest:
- 38 lb text
- 40 lb text
- 45 lb text
- 50 lb text
- 60 lb text
- 70 lb text
- 80 lb text
- 100 lb text
- 60 lb cover (same as 6 pt cover)
- 70 lb cover (same as 7 pt cover)
- 80 lb cover (same as 8 pt cover)
- 100 lb cover (same as 10 pt cover)
- 120 lb cover (same as 12 pt cover)
- 140 lb cover (same as 14 pt cover).
Paper Grade – Paper is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the whitest of the whites, and 5 being a lower quality paper that typically has a yellow-ish tint. Grade 4 or 5 paper is often described as groundwood. Standard magazine-grade paper is normally a no.3 grade. However, occasionally a lower grade paper, like a no.4 or no.5 might work for inside pages and you will need to be the judge of that.
Paper Stock – There are 3 main paper types to choose from:
Gloss – The majority of magazines today are printed on gloss paper. Gloss papers are coated to give them a shiny or lustrous appearance. Gloss papers are less opaque, have less bulk, and are less expensive than dull or matte papers. You will want to use gloss paper if you want your colors to “pop”.
Dull – Smooth surface paper that is low in gloss. Dull coated paper falls between matte and glossy paper.
Matte – A non-glossy, flat looking paper. Matte papers are normally a bit higher in cost, and are the perfect choice if you want your publication to have an elegant feel.
• Quantity – The number of printed copies needed:
If you want 100, or 500 or 1,000 or 5,000 etc… just let your printer know what you want. It is normal for printers to allow anywhere from a 3%-5%-10% overage/underage and you can read more about that here http://www.printindustry.com/Newsletters/Newsletter-49.aspx). Some printers charge for overs that you might not ask for nor want. So make sure to be very clear when you’re getting bids, and ask about any overage policies up front.
• Binding Style : The format in which your magazine will be bound:
There are a few different types of binding, with the two most common being perfect-bound & saddle-bound.
This is the square edge look that you see with some of the larger page count magazines on newsstands. There is not really a maximum number of pages you can perfect bind, but there is normally a minimum amount of pages required to perfect bind. Ask your printer for their minimum requirements.
Saddle-bound (or saddle-stitching):
This is the binding process that uses staples. Normally, saddle stitching is a bit more cost-effective when compared to perfect binding. There is no minimum page count required but there normally is a maximum. Again, just ask your printer what their limits are.
This is the also referred to as coil binding, and it is the binding normally used for cookbooks or notebooks, or any other publication with pages that need to open up completely and lay flat to be the most useful to the reader. Spiral binding is usually much more expensive than saddle or perfect binding, but it certainly has it’s place.
This is the most common type of binding used for hardbound books, like text books or novels. In the case binding process, pages are sewn together, hard covers are attached, and then covered with cloth, vinyl, or leather cases.
• Coatings : You’ll need to determine if your magazine needs a coating.
The most common coatings for magazine covers are gloss UV, matte UV and Varnish:
Gloss UV – This is the extra shiny coating that adds a sheen to the printed product. Gloss UV will enhance colors and preserve the paper from fading, yellowing or tearing.
Matte UV – This coating gives the cover a more textured, smoother feel.
Varnish – The best way to describe varnish is a less glossy, less shiny Gloss-UV.
• Shipping : The exact address of where everything needs to be shipped:
It is best to let your printer know exactly where everything ships, as well as the details of the shipment: Is it going to a residential neighborhood? Is your shipment going somewhere that does not have a dock and will need a lift gate? Also, you will need to let your printer know if you want your magazines shipped in boxes or straps. Some printers charge for boxes, so make sure to ask when getting a quote.
Helpful hints when getting magazine pricing:
* Know that for self covers (magazines with the same paper thru the whole thing), page counts that will get you the best pricing will usually be in multiples of 16 (16, 32, 48, 64 etc…). So, if you are asking for pricing on a self cover magazine at 12 or 28 or 44 pages and your printer does not suggest 16 or 32 or 48 page option for you, hang up the phone immediately!
* Always get samples ahead of time. Some paper stocks are similar enough in feel that it will be worth it to get the lesser grade to save on costs. In my humble opinion, 45 lb paper can often replace a 50 lb, 60 lb paper can often replace 70 lb and 8 pt papers can often replace 10 pt, without the average person being able to tell much of a difference in feel. Conversely, to me, 50 lb paper feels much thinner than 60 lb. Of course, you know your product best, so get samples and feel them for yourself.
* Invest in your cover over the inside pages. This is my opinion, based on what I have learned from working in the printing industry over the last decade. People really do judge a book by it’s cover!
* If you are not dead-set on your final size, look at other options that can save you money. Some common sizes that can garner lower pricing are 8 3/8 x 10 7/8, 6 x 9 and 5 3/8 x 8 3/8. If you want a different look but still want to to have a full size publication, most printers can print at a final size of 9 x 10 7/8, and it will cost close to what you would pay for an 8 3/8 x 10 7/8 size.
* Get multiple options from your printer to see if a different look is worth the additional cost or additional savings. Never assume anything, and know that “it is much more expensive or a lot cheaper” is completely relative, and will mean something different to everyone.
I hope that you’ve found this information helpful, and when you are ready to look for pricing, feel free to contact me or visit our website at www.shweiki.com. I’ll be happy to talk with you, answer any of your questions and send you printed samples so you can consider all of your options. We are a San Antonio Printer specializing in magazine printing but service clients from all corners of the country.
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Have a hassle-free day!