Offset or Digital Printing - Which is best for your book? - WRITE | PUBLISH | SELL

Apr 24, 2024 | Publish

Offset or Digital Printing – Which is best for your book?

This is a guest post from Lori McKnight at MCRL Overseas Group.

Which is better offset or digital printing a book?


The decision to offset print or digitally print your book or planner ultimately depends on your business’ goals, needs, and budget.


One type of printing is not better than the other…the best choice truly depends on your situation. 


  • What’s your budget?
  • How many books or planners do you need?
  • What are your sales goals?
  • Are eco-friendly materials important?
  • Do you envision unique design and decorating features?
  • How much lead time do you have?


Image provided by MCRL Overseas Group


If you’re looking to print more than 300 books, planners or board books, then it’s worthwhile to get an offset printing quote. 

Not only is offset printing less expensive for higher print runs, it gives you many more options for:

  • paper stock 
  • PMS color matching Image provided by MCRL Overseas Group
  • non-standard sizes, including landscape books
  • unique features such as interactive flaps, textiles, branded pockets, tabs, glitter, etc. 


Alternatively, if you want to print under 300 books or planners that are standard size, without much customization then digital printing may be the way to go.


The Pros and Cons 


Offset Printing Pros

  • Most cost-effective for print runs > 300 books or planners
  • Highest quality printing with vibrant colors and crisp artwork
  • Wide range of paper stocks, custom options and eco-materials


Offset Printing Cons

  • Higher setup costs so uneconomical for print runs < 300 
  • Longer lead time 
  • Requires space to store inventory


Digital POD Printing Pros

  • Most cost-effective for small print runs
  • Faster turnaround as no set up is required
  • Print your books as you get orders (no inventory)


Digital POD Printing Cons

  • Cost per unit doesn’t change much with higher print runs
  • Profit margin is less 
  • Limited selection of cover materials, paper, finishes and add-ons


This comparison chart lists additional factors you may want to consider when determining the best type of printing and printing partner for your project.


We recommend you get 2 quotes before making a final decision.
Thanks to MCRL Overseas Group for providing offset printing information


The Bottom Line

The best type of printing depends on your business goals and budget.


Digitally printing your book with vendors such as IngramSpark, Blurb, etc. will be less expensive than offset printing for small quantities.  


Offset printing more than 300 copies of your book or planner with an offset printer like MCRL Overseas Group will be significantly less expensive than digitally printing. And as your quantity increases, the unit price drops so your profit margin increases.


For a price comparison of offset printing and POD a hard cover and paperback book, download a Printer’s Guide to Offset Printing Your Book. During the 2024 WIP Summit, MCRL presented cost comparisons, printing tips and a guide to help you evaluate multiple printing quotes.


Additional Resources 

Photo gallery of offset printed books & planners

Printing Terminology



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