POD vs. Offset Printing - what's the best for a children's book?

POD or Offset Printing: Which is Best for a Children’s Book?

You’ve spent countless hours writing, illustrating, editing and re-editing your children’s book. Now you’re ready to show the world! But first you need to get that baby printed.

As a first-time author, you’re likely grappling between Digital Printing and Offset Printing.

Not quite sure of the difference?

Digital Printing transfers data from a computer file to a large-format inkjet or laser printer. It’s a popular choice for short-run book printing and is used for Print-On-Demand (POD).

Offset Printing uses a specialized printing press, offering higher quality ink and custom features, such as spot finishes, foils, glitter, embossing and more.

Pros and cons of Print-On-Demand vs. Offset Printing

Two self-publishing experts share their experiences.

Sheri Fink is the president of Whimsical World and author of 14 children’s books including The Little Rose, a #1 Amazon Best-Seller for over 60 weeks, a #1 Children’s eBook on Amazon and an adapted stage play. Full disclosure…Sheri’s also a long-time MCRL client. Here’s Sheri’s advice…

Sheri Fink shares self-publishing advice for printing children’s books

I’ve been independently publishing books since 2011 and I’ve used both Digital POD and Offset Printing. Both can be great depending on the type of book and your goals for that particular release. There isn’t one choice that’s right for every author or for every book.

I prefer to use Digital POD (Ingram Spark) for our Whimsical World Coloring Book and other paperback books. It’s ideal if you’re publishing a middle grade novel with limited artwork inside, a YA novel, a journal, or a fiction novel. It can also be helpful if you’re just starting out as an author, aren’t anticipating a lot of book sales, and/or you need an affordable way to print your book.

For my hardcover children’s books and self-help books, I choose to print with MCRL.

Offset Printing enables me to print the highest quality book at the lowest possible price. I can offer my readers a wonderful tactile reading experience and make a profit to continue running my business. I enjoy having a dedicated point of contact for customer service and knowing that my files are being triple-checked by humans before they go to print. I appreciate that their quotes include shipping, freight, etc. so it’s easy to determine my actual cost per book.

I like to surprise and delight my readers and often have visions for books that exceed the capabilities of the standard Digital POD printers (including creating board books, adding a mirror to a book, and featuring glow-in-the-dark elements). MCRL helps me achieve these out-of-the-box innovations in a way that makes me (and my readers!) very happy. And, because I’m printing larger quantities at lower prices, I can make sure that I’m making a healthy return on my investment so I’ll be able to write and publish more books in the future.

Steve Young is the President of YesBear Publishing. He has self-published 30 children’s books for indie authors. Steve has experience with Ingram Spark, KDP and local presses. Here’s Steve’s advice…

YesBear Publishing logo

When authors are considering self-publishing a book, they need to consider the audience most likely to read AND purchase their book.

The rule of thumb for years has been physical books for children (including hardbacks, board books, and paperbacks). However, a growing number of children enjoy both “reading” a book on a digital device AND ALSO the tactile experience of turning pages.

Authors should also consider the audience purchasing their book… children aren’t buying their own books. Parents, grandparents, and other relatives are buying them. Grandparents (and now I can speak from experience) love to cuddle up with their grandchildren and read a book together. The experience is irreplaceable!

So, which format is best for children’s books? I always encourage my authors/clients to produce in both physical (either POD or offset printing depending on budget and audience) AND digital formats.

Pros & Cons of POD vs Offset Printing

Comparison Chart of Ingram Spark (POD), KDP (POD) and MCRL (Offset Printing)

Printer

Pros

Cons

Ingram Spark

Print-on-Demand (POD)

No minimum order quantities, print as needed

Cost per book for 300 or fewer copies less than overseas pricing; more $$ for 300+ books

Includes printing, distribution to multiple online marketplaces, and fulfillment (on-demand shipping to customers)

Automatically puts sales tracking for your book on BookScan

Higher print costs for hardcover and full-color illustration books

Very little human quality control (printed the way you upload it, even if you made mistakes)

Limited customization options for paper, trim size, cover, glitter, foil treatments, etc.

Lower image, paper, and print quality than offset printing

Charged for changes to your files and extra $ for physical proof

Shipping boxes are not as sturdy (single-walled cartons)

Cannot print board books

Amazon

Kindle Direct Press (KDP)

Competitive cost-per-book pricing

Popular with indie authors as easy to get an online profile

Offers marketplace for digital and print book sales

No experience printing hardcover books (“Beta” recently announced)

Very little human quality control (printed the way you upload it, even if you made mistakes)

Very limited customization options for paper, trim size, features.

Lower image quality

A printed proof can be requested but you pay for shipping

If accepting Amazon’s free ISBN, some limitations detailed in fine print of agreement that may limit future opportunities for book

MCRL Overseas Group

(Offset Printing)

Lower cost-per-book for 500+ copies. Physical proof included + an “all-in” quote (no surprises)

Professional, high quality paper, cover, printing and book construction with custom printing capabilities (i.e. board books & special features)

Dedicated point of contact and great human customer service

Delivers books in sturdy, reusable double-walled cartons

An experienced offset printer since 2004

Minimum print run of 500 books (can print less but cost per book is higher)

Larger upfront cost, but more strategic in the long-run to maximize return on investment (ROI)

Must order/store own book inventory until sold

Shipping and delivery times are longer than POD

Prepared in consultation with Sheri Fink and Steve Young of YesBearPublishing

Download comparison summary here

If you found this article helpful, you might like: