Here’s a question I get asked a lot:  why does print layout cost so much more than ebook layout

With regard to the costs of print versus eBooks: while specialized knowledge is needed to create eBooks that take advantage of all ebook functionality and possibilities (like embedded fonts and things that can’t be done with Word uploads), other specialized knowledge and software is needed to do print book layout.

Print book layout simply takes quite a bit longer than ebook layout, for a variety of reasons; amongst them are

  • preventing what are called “ladders” (searching each page to ensure that multiple lines in a row don’t have hyphenated words),
  • widows and orphans (you already know what those are);
  • looking at virtually every line to see if it needs kerning or leading (vertical or horizontal space),
  • checking for intersecting ascenders/descenders (depending on font—the bottom of one letter running into the top of another letter on the next line), and the like.
  • Other things contribute to the time:
  • do all chapters start on a right-hand page?
  • Or do they continue in the middle of a page, if a chapter ends?
  • Or, on the next page, regardless of whether it’s recto (right-hand) or verso (left)?

Everything, generally,  takes more time to do in a print book: for example, if you make an edit, and you change “intersection” to “stop sign,” you’ve exchanged 12 characters for 9. That may or may not change an entire line. if it does, it changes the paragraph. This can change the entire page’s layout, and if it does that, you then have to check and recheck the entire chapter, as it may ripple-effect all the way through to the end of that chapter. And if the chapters don’t start on new pages? Then you actually have to check the entire book, page by page.  For a single edit.  

If you peruse other layout companies, you’ll see that many start at a base price of $3.50-$4.50/page for fiction or fiction-like layout, and start at $4.50 a page for “non-fiction.” That pricing doesn’t include any ebook production, either. There’s a reason that so many don’t list any pricing on their websites; they don’t want you to know upfront what it’s going to cost you. Even Createspace has an Amazon-subsidized base package price, which means that they can create it at a loss, of $349.00 for any PDF creation whatsoever.  If you take the time to contact other reputable print layout companies, (which I strongly encourage), you’ll be surprised at what print layout can really cost.  You can do the math yourself; a page is construed as 250 words.  If you have an 80K manuscript, that will calculate out at 320 pages (at least, for the purposes of the pricing; 80,000 divided by 250 = 320 pages).  Multiply 320 pages by $3.50 a page, and that starts to add up pretty quickly—and remember, that doesn’t include any ebook production! Our starting pricing for POD Packages can be reviewed here:  What is a POD PDF? (which includes ebook production in both ePUB and MOBI format) aren’t just lower, they’re significantly lower.  

Remember also that creating your various book formats (print, ePUB and MOBI) all at the same time will save you money over creating your ebooks first and print later, no matter what company you use.