In a perfect world, if you were to ask “What does it cost to print 1,000 magazines, 5,000 publications, 10,000 catalogs, etc…?” you would get a quick answer, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
There are many costs associated with printing a magazine, and it’s important for publishers to be familiar with the factors that affect these costs to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure that they are securing the best deal possible from their printer. Here David Reimherr, Vice President of Sales for Shweiki, breaks down the factors that determine publication printing costs in a must-watch webinar.
How much does publication printing cost?
• 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 the files. It’s important to note that dimensions are given in “width x height.” The easiest way to remember this is by remembering that the height is the side where the binding or spine is. So, when providing 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
The number of pages you will be sending including covers:
This shouldn’t 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 the publisher is talking in sheets while the estimator is talking in pages, the publisher is going to end up thinking they got an incredible price…until the files come in! It’s crucial to count each page: cover is page one, inside cover is page two, etc., until the back cover, which is the last page. One other way that page count can be communicated is by giving a “+ cover” count, meaning that one provides the total number of inside pages + the four-page cover (front cover, inside front cover, inside back cover, back cover). But for the sake of clarity, it’s always best to say 64+4 or 68 total pages, etc.
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, and here they are listed from the thinnest paper stocks to the thickest:
Paper Grade – Paper is graded on a scale of one to five, with one being the whitest of the whites, and five being a lower quality paper that typically has a yellowish tint. Grade four or five paper is often described as groundwood. Standard magazine-grade paper is normally a number-three grade. However, occasionally a lower grade paper, like a number four or number five, might work for inside pages.
Paper Stock – There are three 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. One should use gloss paper if they want their 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 way to give a publication an elegant feel.
The number of printed copies needed:
Whether it’s 100 or 500 or 1,000 or 5,000 etc., it’s important for one to let their printer know what they want. It is normal for printers to allow anywhere from a 3%-5%-10% overage/underage. (You can read more about that here.) Some printers charge for covers that one might not ask for nor want, so it’s important to be very clear when 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, and the two most common are perfect-bound and saddle-bound.
Perfect bound is the square-edge look seen with some of the magazines on newsstands with larger page counts. There is not really a maximum number of pages that one can perfect bind, but there is normally a minimum amount of pages required to perfect bind. One should ask their printer for specific minimum requirements.
Saddle stitch 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, one should simply ask their printer what their limits are.
Spiral bound is the also referred to as coil binding, and it is the binding normally used for cookbooks, 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 its place.
Case binding is the most common type of binding used for hardbound books, like textbooks or novels. In the case binding process, pages are sewn together, hardcovers are attached, d then covered with cloth, vinyl or leather cases.
• Coatings: The type of coating you want for your magazine:
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 the printer know exactly where everything ships, as well as the details of the shipment. (Is it going to a residential neighborhood? Is the shipment going somewhere that does not have a dock and will need a lift gate?) Also, it’s important to let the printer whether the magazines should be shipped in boxes or straps. Some printers charge for boxes, so it’s important to ask when getting a quote.
Helpful hints when getting magazine pricing:
* For self-covers (publications with the same paper used throughout the whole thing), page counts that will get the best pricing will usually be in multiples of 16 (16, 32, 48, 64 etc.). So, if one is asking for pricing on a self-cover magazine at 12 or 28 or 44 pages and the printer does not suggest a 16, 32 or 48-page option, one should hang up the phone immediately!
* One should 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. For instance, 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. However, 50 lb. paper may feel much thinner than 60 lb. The best strategy is to get samples and actually feel them.
*People really do judge a book by its cover, and the same rings true with magazines. Often it’s a good idea to acknowledge the importance of first impressions and invest in the cover, rather than the inside pages.
* 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.
*One should get multiple options from their printer to see if a different look is worth the additional cost or additional savings. It’s important not to assume anything and to know that what’s considered “significantly cheaper” or “a lot more expensive” is often 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 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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