Once you have reviewed your proof and have no more changes, you are ready to start printing. By now you have collected quotes and have an idea of how many copies you want to print. Your first print run quantity should be informed by at least some of the factors below:

  1. Market research
  2. Pre-orders
  3. Budget

You should avoid guessing how many books you should print for your first print. If you print too few, you might not have enough books to fill orders. Reprints can take up to 3 weeks to reach you and you can lose out on a lot of sales in that time. If you print too many, you may not be able to sell all your books. For more tips on how to work this out, see our article on publishing budgets.

Printing press

Depending on the number of copies you have decided to print, you can print your book in one of three ways:


This means that your book will be printed on a lithographic printer. A lithographic printer is a huge machine that creates printing plates of each page of your book. If you are printing 1000 copies or more, it is the most cost-effective way to print your book.


Unlike a litho printing press, a digital printing press transfers your book from the computer to paper, no need for printing plates. If you are printing under 1000 copies, it is more cost-effective to print digitally.

Print on demand

If you do not want to print a large number of copies right away, you can print your book as you get confirmed orders with a print on demand service. You can print only one copy if you want. However, this method is not recommended when launching your book as you want to make as many sales as you can, and it is better to have stock on hand.

What happens at the printing factory?

There are various stages a book goes through at the printing factory before it is ready to be dispatched. 


The pre-press department at the printer will run your book’s files through a quality check to make sure that everything is going to print correctly. If the files pass these checks, the printer will send an digital proof for you to approve. 


Once the digital proof has been approved, the files are added to the print queue and the estimated delivery date is communicated with you. The text and cover of your book are printed separately on large sheets of paper. 


Finishing refers to processes like varnish, lamination, foiling, embossing and debossing that are applied to paper after printing. For example, the cover of your book will be laminated or varnished to prevent scuffing.


The sheets of paper your book has been printed on is sent to a giant cutting machine (think guillotine…) that cuts the sheets to size. In publishing lingo, this process is also known as trimming.


The large sheets that your book has been printed on are folded multiple times into signatures. For example, one fold makes four pages, two folds make eight pages and so on.


Once your book has been cut to size and folded correctly, the pages are collated into the right order. The folded sheets are sorted into sets that make up your book.


There are multiple binding methods available for books, such as saddle stitching, PUR binding, thread sewing and more.  Some binding methods take longer than others because they involve gluing or sewing.

There are lots of different printers out there and some of them aren’t reputable or are good at printing many things but do not specialise in printing books. At Staging Post, we have good relationships with all the major book printers in South Africa and get preferential rates from them. We are assured the best rates and can pass on those savings in cost to you. 

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Source consulted:  Laurens Leurs, March 2016, ‘Finishing’, Prepressure.com blog, https://www.prepressure.com/finishing?utm_campaign=InternalLink&utm_medium=Navigation&utm_source=Finishing. 

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