Children's Book Printing Opportunity
Printing children’s books may be the biggest opportunity for short-run book printers today. Few options exist today in the United States for publishers to print short-run, color children’s books.
Most children’s books are printed overseas. Cost savings overseas are impressive for four-color printing. Primarily the books are printed in Hong Kong, Mainland China or Korea. Most children’s books are also printed in quantities of 3,000 or more to justify printing them offshore. Once printed, the publisher also has to contend with importing them back into the United States.
The only book I published personally was a children’s book entitled Princess Sarah. I published it in 1984 when there were few book printing options. I had hoped to print the book as a “board book;” a color hard cover book with color text pages. My challenge was I only wanted a limited number of copies. The price was prohibitive. I ended up printing black & white books with a velo bind at a quick printer. I was a neophyte and didn’t know that the bookstores would not accept a velo bind spine on a book. Had the printer consulted with me on why I was printing the book, perhaps we would have decided on a different type of bind.
Fortunately for me, I sold (or gave away) all my books. There are horror stories, however, of publishers that go out of business because of the high costs of printing abroad. One such case is a friend of mine, Adam Abraham of Phaelos Publishing. He printed 5,000 children’s books in Korea. He imported them into the United States. The entire project cost him over $20,000. Adam had a hard time selling the book through the bookstore channels and he didn’t develop alternative channels of distribution. Adam struggled for two years selling his title. In the end, his business failed and he declared bankruptcy.
Digital color printing options change the necessity of printing overseas. It no longer makes sense to print 3,000-5,000 copies of an untested book. Print fewer books and find a market for the title. It is economical to print 500 color children’s books on a color copier or digital press. The challenge is the hard cover. There are short-run options for that, too. Check out Exactbind West for one such hard cover binder (also known as a “case” binder).
The format of most children’s books is what makes them appealing to book printers. Typically children’s books are 32- or 64-page signatures on a coated stock with a printed paper, hard cover. Each book has end sheets and head and foot bands. Each book must be durable enough to stand up to a child’s constant use. The pricing on children’s books is usually less than $15.95 for a 32-page signature book.
I had the opportunity to print two children’s books. One was Dragon ABCs by Joan Selwyn and the other was other was The Children’s Question Book by Esther Pearlman. Dragon ABCs was 32-pages, full color printing on glossy stock. We printed 100 copies of the book each print run at a cost of $21.88 per book. The Children’s Question Book was a 64-page book, 2-color text pages and a 4-color cover. We printed 50 copies of the book at $16.88 per copy.
The cost of each printed book exceeds the commonly accepted price for children’s books and that was fine. The books were sample books. Each author was exploring distribution channels and marketing techniques to reach their audience. In larger quantities, these titles may have even been economical to print for sale and distribution using digital techniques.
There are many more opportunities to print children’s books in the marketplace today. It is one of the most underserved target audiences by US printers in book printing today. Consider using 4-color, digital printing technology to recapture some of this market share. You will find it is profitable work.