Pricing on publishing a book

Got a quote on printing a letterpress book the other day. Want to see if you think it high or low.

About 250 copies of a book 160 pages, printed on off white text with a cover on 80 pound cover stock.

All one color printing including the cover.

Size of the 6x9 and perfect binding. Also the printer is setting the type on his Linotype, approx 30 lines per page.

He quoted (+-) $4,850 plus shipping.

Does look like a fair price?

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It hardly is fair for anyone on this site to take issue with the pricing you have been quoted. Your best option is to seek another competing bid for the same book from a different printer.

What is the reason you are seeking to have this book printed from hot metal set type? Perhaps you could get a better price if you went with conventional text composition and printing, but had a custom letterpress-printed cover.

I guess what I am saying is, you have received a quote for a big project which includes many hours of composition. The value of this is something you will have to personally assess.

John Henry

I would say that that quote is an amazing deal, given the LARGE amount of work that would go into composing 160+ pages, proofing and printing, final trimming, and gluing. My very rough estimate (as a printer and bookbinder) would say that that’s around 500 hours of work (though a bit less if printed on a Windmill). Plus paper! Goodness, it may seem like a lot of cash, but it’s a lot of work, too.


30 lines of type x 160 pages = 4800, which is a tad over one dollar per line of type. I think that is very reasonable.

I agree that it sounds very reasonable, or beyond very reasonable, more like unrealistically low. To me, it sounds like it would be reasonable if quoted for the composition alone, as Girl with a kluge mentions regarding $1+ per line. Is this printer retired and just working in his old-time shop to keep himself busy?

Perhaps you should sit down with the printer and discuss it. If you are thinking about going with them, I would mention that it seems low. Maybe they made a mistake in the quote. It’s better to find out now than later, when you might be hit with a big upcharge.

You mention that the quote is plus or minus $4850. What does plus or minus mean to that particular printer?

It would be nice to have a congenial and effective working relationship with your printer. If you don’t know them, I’m hoping it isn’t the case, but are they perhaps consciously low-balling the quote to get the job, and then planning to add a lot before delivery? It is to both of your advantage to know what the situation is up front.

(On a separate but somewhat related subject: In packaging, which I was most recently in as a full-time job before I retired, the quote was given as +/-10%, with the printer being able to furnish the order quantity +/- 10% and call the order complete and bill for the exact quantity produced. With big complicated jobs, it is hard if not impossible to manufacture to an exact order quantity. However, as I said, this is not the point here).

Just my thoughts, for what they are worth. It would be interesting to get another quote. Keep us posted….