Ever since launching my kickstarter campaign, I’ve been getting email after email asking which printers are the best for self-publishing a graphic novel, how much the average printing costs are and who I ended up choosing to print reMIND.
Before I share the small list of printers I’ve discovered, I must remind you that each printer is completely different. Don’t assume the paper from one printer will look like the paper from another. Don’t assume they all do the same process to get your book. And just saying you want a high quality book means completely different things in different countries. There are soooooo many facets of printing and binding a book that you really need to spend the time to learn the basics. I’m still learning new things and terms every time I talk with someone from a printing company. I’d make a post all about the basics, but I’m afraid I don’t understand it all good enough to be confident in my advice yet. I’ll have to save that one for later, after I become a guru savant or something.
But if you are just starting out in your search of how to print a book, I have a few options to start looking into but remember, this list only scratches the surface.
Print-On-Demand Printers (POD)
In terms of quality, POD printers will always be the worst but you literally have no set up fees. POD is great for 100 books or less in my opinion. They have many benefits for someone new to this whole arena. So start here if you are unsure of your skill as an artist or writer and have no money to risk. I’ve used Ka-Blam before and the print quality was fine for what I needed.
Ka-Blam.com – I’ve printed 2 comics through Ka-Blam a few years back and they are my favorite POD for comics. They just started doing hard bound books, although I’m curious about the quality and what kind of binding they do. I assume it’s just a perfect binding with a hardcover on top (not the best, but cheap). I could be wrong though. I might have to order a hardbound book from someone to see for myself.
Lulu.com – I looked heavily into Lulu when I started, but I wasn’t impressed as much with the quality of their printing and how they handle copyrights. In the end, it was just too complex and the price and quality didn’t impress me.
ComiXpress.com - I was going to use this company for my first comic but they lost my order after a month so I cancelled it instead of resending it. Plus, it took about 3 months to get some sample books I ordered. Not the best first and second impressions. The quality was good but I don’t trust them with my business. Most people I’ve talked to have had bad luck with getting their orders in time too.
Blurb.com – Not really designed for comics or GN’s but I could see using this site to make a nice sample book to show around. Very expensive, but very nice looking and easy to make a book in no time with no knowledge of printing. I might use this company to print a childrens book for my son. I’ll let you know how it turns out. This whole company feels exactly like Apple’s book printing service through iPhoto.
Lightningsource.com – This is a normal printer but they also do POD books. I’ve requested a quote for a black and white hard bound book but the dimensions of my book didn’t fit their template so it didn’t workout. Has anyone used these guys?
Canadian Printers (offset printing)
Good for larger print runs, quick turnarounds, and high quality softcover books. But it will cost you. These are all traditional offset printers, not Print-On-Demand. I printed a comic in Canada and the quality was amazing! Sometimes finding a printer in Canada can save you money on your printing costs depending on where you live. I’ve meet lots of artists (in North America) who have printed with the companies listed above and love them. If you are printing a soft bound book then definitely get some quotes from these guys.
Outsource to Asia (Offices in North America)
Regent Publishing Services - http://www.regent-hk.com.hk/
Crossblue Overseas Printing – http://www.crossblue.com/
Diy USA – http://diyausa.com/
GlobalPSD – http://www.globalpsd.com/
Star Print Brokers – http://www.starprintbrokers.com/
This is the method I chose to go with for reMIND for a few reasons. Printing a hard cover book in China can literally save you 50% on your costs over printing in North America even with the shipping costs. But because you have all the books shipped to you on a boat and it needs to clear customs, it can take up to 3 months for the whole process from start to finish. I’ve meet two people now who recommended Regent over anyone and the quality of their books are amazing. Be prepared to learn your stuff in order to do it this way. You still need to print a big order so you are going to be talking about thousands of books and thousands of dollars.
I’m planning on using Regent or Crossblue and they both quoted me around $7,500 to $11,000 for 2000 books with various differences. Don’t expect this same price range for your book because there are so many variables to choose from which will affect the price like crazy. The best thing to do if you plan on going this way is to talk to all of the companies and get quotes from all of them. Learn as much as you can about the printing process. Trust me, you can’t fake it here. You will look like a fool so tell them you’re new to this and let them educate you a bit.
Visit your Local Printers
Before you make up your mind, it’s good to look up the local printer in your area and go visit them. If they are local, you have the advantage of seeing the proofs easily and communication is a snap. You also save massive money on shipping all the books to your doorstep.