digital or offset printing

Is Digital or Offset Printing Better for Your Book?

Although I’m a book ghostwriter, not a printer, I’m often asked about printing and publication. Many of my clients are not sure about the differences between digital and offset printing, or which to use for their book. Here’s a quick comparison of the two.

Digital Printing – Pros

  • Low set-up costs.
  • Economical for short and ultra-short runs.
  • Used for POD (print-on-demand).
  • Faster turn-around time than with offset printing, for there is less press set-up and maintenance.
  • Less waste.

Digital Printing – Cons

  • Print quality may be slightly inferior to offset printing 
  • Color quality may suffer, depending on the color scheme you’re using. Does not reproduce Pantone colors with 100 percent fidelity.
  • Cost per unit may be higher than with offset printing, depending on number of units printed.
  • Limited paper selection.

Offset Printing – Pros

  • Very high-quality printing.
  • Good color reproduction.
  • More economical for long runs.
  • Cost per unit falls with additional units printed.
  • Large variety of paper stock, inks, and finishes can be used.

Offset Printing – Cons

  • Higher set-up cost.
  • Increased turn-around time, for the press needs to be reset for each job.
  • Expensive for short runs.
  • Cost prohibitive for POD (print-on-demand).

There are valid reasons to choose one form of printing over the other. If you’re looking to bottom-line it, remember that digital printing is more cost-effective for short runs, while offset printing is a better bet for long runs. (See my post titled “10 Book Printing Definitions” to learn about different print runs.)