Printed open book

15 helpful points to consider about book printing

There are many variations of book printing and what you could do for your printed project. That is why your book printer does not carry a price list and prefers to quote on each unique order.

The printing estimator would need to have a look at the specifications of your project as the information required for quoting varies depending on whether it is a calendar, magazine or a book and this will allow them to be accurate so you get a competitive price and the printer is not making a loss.

Book printing can be more complex than most other projects so I have included below the information you would be expected to supply. This would also be useful for any project that has several pages such as a magazine.


The number of books you require. It is entirely understandable that you are not sure of the quantity you require when it comes to book printing so it is best to ask for pricing on several quantities such as 100, 200 and 300 and then you will understand what you would be paying and can make a better-informed decision. Nowadays many printers offer Print on Demand where they keep your files and digitally print in small batches for you as you receive orders for your book. It saves on having to pay a large sum of money and then to still cover warehousing or storage fees every month while you are selling your stock of books


This is the physical size of the book. Convention dictates that it is specified as width x height and preferably in millimetres. Keep in mind that the size affects price so you have to strike a balance between form and function.

Text pages

This might seem obvious but it does not hurt to state it again. Each sheet of paper has two sides and when bound into a book form those two sides become two pages. Only ever specify the number of pages you require, don’t try to imagine how the book will be made up and say that it will be so many A3 paper sheets folded to pages as the way you think a book will be made up will probably not be the way the printer will do it. Do not include the cover specs, have that listed separately.

Text paper

Printers talk about paper weight instead of paper thickness as it is an accurate way of costing it. The paper thickness should not be used as a guide as one paper mill might produce a bulkier and stiffer paper than another mill even though they are both the same weight. Heavier paper will give the impression of higher quality but if it is for catalogues that will be posted then the lightest paper will save on postage charges.

There is a wide variety of papers that can be used for the text pages and here are some examples;

Textbooks and technical manuals – 80gsm white bond.

Novels – 80gsm white bond or 70gsm Creamy, (this is a cream colour paper that is less strain on the eyes)

Catalogues – 115gsm gloss art

Cover pages

A conventional book will have 4 cover pages, 2 at the front and 2 at the back. There could be additional pages if there is a fold-out of 2 pages at the front or back cover. There are 3 basic cover types;

Softcover – this is typically what is used for novels and has become far more popular with text and technical books because of the cost saving. The stock used will be in the 230gsm to 250gsm range

Hardcover – The traditional way of producing a book and it helps to protect the book.

Self-cover: This is when the paper used for the cover is the same as used for the text. It is the most cost-effective method. The total page count for the cover and text must equal an even number.


Once again there are several ways of securing the cover to the pages and keeping the pages together. The most popular options are as follows;

Saddle stitching – A very popular option and often mistakenly referred to as stapling. If you look closely, you will see that each “staple” is a length of wire and has been stitched through the paper.

Perfect bound – The pages and cover are glued together, and this method is used for all softcover books. Insist on PUR, polyurethane reactive, instead of the more traditional EVA, ethylene vinyl acetate, as PUR remains supple and the pages do not fall out over time which does happen with EVA.

Spiral Wire – You are no doubt familiar with spiral wire binding, very popular for documents and calendars

Ink on paper

The most important part of your book! There are a few basic things you need to understand. Full-colour printing is used for printing anything that has multiple colours such as pictures. They comprise four inks and are collectively referred to as CMYK – C = cyan which is a light blue, M = magenta which is a pinkish red, Y = yellow and K = blacK. If you are only having a novel produced then the ink used on the text pages is traditionally black as it works out far cheaper than printing in full colour / CMYK.

If you are printing in black but need one colour to highlight say, for example, the chapter number, then you would specify a Pantone colour. For more information, top tips and advice on Pantone colours please read


The part of book printing that usually requires some level of finishing is the cover. The most popular option is a clear coating that helps the colours have more punch and adds some protection to the surface.

UV varnish – a clear gloss or satin coating and is cured once applied using ultra-violet light.

Aqueous varnish – similar to UV but water-based and slightly cheaper although not as hard wearing or as “glossy” the gap between the two is being closed as coating technology improves.

Film laminate – a very thin sheet of clear plastic laminated onto the cover. It is the most expensive but the hardest wearing of the options.

Foiling – a thin foil is adhered to the surface using a block that carries the design onto the surface with heat and creates an indent to the cover. This is usually used for prestigious literature and presentations.

Embossing – a pattern is pressed into the fibres of the cover and is used to give depth to parts of the printing.

Spot UV – used when only a certain portion of a cover needs to be covered for example just the lettering of the title of the book.


Each book or group of books will be shrink wrapped and packed in suitable boxes for delivery if you do not wish for shrink wrapping you can specify paper wrapping. If you are requiring delivery make it clear as to the address so that the estimators can include the courier cost as part of the quotation.

To open the book on your print requirements go to our book landing page.