Print my book. Sounds like a simple and reasonable thing to do, right? It probably should be, but ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press in the 15th century the debate has raged about the best, right or most efficient way to produce a book. We book nerds here at Steuben Press could bore you to death with all kinds of information from the last 600 years of our chosen industry, but maybe let’s just focus on what we feel has revolutionized book printing in the modern age: digital book printing, which has led the way to affordable online book printing services.
Digital printing refers to the process of taking a digital image and transferring it directly to a variety of media. In our case here, the digital image is a page of your book, and the media it’s being applied to is the physical paper that will eventually be bound with other printed pages. Simple, yes? Actually it’s the same thing that you’re doing on your home desktop printer and probably doesn’t sound all that magical when you break it down. However, consider that for many years the only available way to print a page was by a process called offset printing. In your search for a book printer you’ve probably heard the term “offset printing” as it’s still a widely used process and is an extremely viable option depending on your goals.
In the offset printing process an operator creates a metal or polyester plate that is burned or engraved with an image. This plate is coated with ink and then applied to the paper. This is done for each color of ink being used, so when you print a full color image there are actually four separate plates created and transferred. Complicated, yes? It’s a fascinating process to watch if you ever have the opportunity. If you’re planning to print thousands of books it’s definitely something you want to consider. The reason offset printing is such a great option when you’re printing lots of copies of something is that the cost of creating plates and the extensive setup process involved can be distributed over the cost of each print. If you want to print 100 books or even 500 books, offset printing most likely offers you a per unit cost that is way too high to even be considered.
It is in this low to mid-run category of book printing where digital printing becomes so effective. In digital printing there is no plate creation and images are sent directly from computer to the press. Multiple colors are printed using toner on the same machine, and paper only needs to be passed through the press one time. All of these efficiencies eliminate the bulk of setup costs traditionally associated with book printing.
The reason we use a word as big as “revolution” when it comes to digital printing is because this technology has allowed for shorter runs of printing where previously it would have been impractical, if not impossible. In just the book world alone it has allowed for thousands and thousands of titles to be published and read by the world whereas in the past they would have sat idly in the minds or word processors of their creators.
Digital printing technology has certainly been around for a while now, and it continues to be honed and advanced every year. We’ll never claim that our way is the only way to print your book, or that other options don’t have merit, but we believe that when you balance quality and price, our digital process will give you a book that you are proud of and will position you to sell with profit in mind. Join us in the revolution and let’s go to print!