If you're looking for the cheapest way to print a book, Amazon KDP is the answer. You don't need to order a minimum number of copies, and your book simply needs to meet their guidelines.
This makes it the perfect option for self-publishers who want to keep costs low. You can publish your book on Amazon KDP's platform, and sell it directly to readers.
You can also order proof copies or order a single copy for up to 999 at a time. All you need to pay is the print cost and shipping cost.
Amazon Print Guidelines
As mentioned above, Amazon is the cheapest way to print a book, however, in order to use their inexpensive print services, you need to meet their guidelines.
Your book must:
- Be at least 40 pages long
- Have a finished cover design
- Be in PDF format
Additionally, if your book has images, you want to ensure they are formatted correctly and decide whether or not you will print with or without bleed. All this means is that if you want the images in your book to go to the very edge of the page (no white space), then you need to print with bleed.
If you don't want to worry about formatting all your images correctly, or don't plan on having images that go to the edge of the page, then you can opt-out of printing with bleed, but you still need to ensure that any text or images do not go past the margin areas.
This can be an absolute pain, as it cannot be even a pixel out of line, or your book will be rejected and you'll have to start the process over again (ie. wait up to 72 hours to find out whether your book has been approved for print or rejected!)
To learn more about Amazon's print guidelines, click here (this link teaches you all about choosing the correct trim sizes and margins)
Likewise, your book cover will have its own set of dimensions specific to the number of pages and size of the book.
The cover is very important to get right and you should know all about dimensions and formatting, as well as spine text before getting your cover designed or uploaded - it is very different from the process of publishing an ebook, which is why so many people skip print altogether.
You can use their own cover creator tool or download a template file to help you with this.
So, do not think you can just take your unformatted and non-ready-for-print ebook and simply upload it to Amazon and they will print it for you. That is not how it works! You need a PDF that meets their guidelines.
Printing Your Book Locally
In my experience, Amazon is the cheapest method of printing a book and this is typically down to the sheer size of the company. They can order in huge quantities of paper and print on demand, so the per-unit cost is typically lower than printing locally.
However, it cannot hurt to get quotes from local printers and there are some benefits to printing your book locally.
Benefits Of Printing Your Book Using A Local Printer
- You can get a physical copy of your book much faster this way - ideal if you have an event or launch coming up and need your books in a hurry.
- Local printers typically have shorter turnaround times than printing on-demand services like Amazon KDP or IngramSpark.
- You may be able to haggle on the price if you're willing to order a higher quantity of books. This could work out cheaper in the long run, even though the upfront cost is higher.
- You can build a relationship with your local printer, which could be beneficial for future projects.
- And lastly, it's always nice to support local businesses! It helps keep the money in your local economy.