When selling your book on Amazon KDP, you’re probably going to want to set up Print on Demand (POD) print options for your book.
The way POD works, is you set your price, Amazon takes out the production cost of the book, as well as their cut of the royalties, and you’re left with a small percentage of what the reader pays for the book.
We can’t do anything about the royalties that Amazon takes, but we can take steps to reduce the print production costs. And in this article, that’s exactly what I’ll show you how to do.
Table of contents
Let’s dive right in.
Understanding Print Costs on Amazon
There are a few different aspects of your print on demand book production that affect the cost. These include:
- Page count
- Ink type (black ink or color ink)
- Amazon marketplace
- Trim size
- Regular: Smaller than 6.12 inches (155 mm) in width or 9 inches (229 mm) in height.
- Large: Larger than 6.12 inches (155 mm) in width or 9 inches (229 mm) in height.
This is important to note, because many authors think that bleed settings or the cover finish (matte or glossy) affect the price of your book, and they do not. And trim size is only affected if you go above or below a 6″x9″ book. Above is more expensive, and below is cheaper.
But what about page count and ink type?
Well, there’s a system that Amazon has to calculate those numbers.
Basically, there is a fixed cost for books under 108 pages (for black and white) or under 40 pages (for color). If you go over those amounts, the fixed cost is lowered, but there’s an additional cost for each page, meaning the larger it is, the more it costs to produce.
Here is a table outlining how it works in the United States. See Amazon’s guide for more info on costs in other countries.
|Print Type||Ink/Pages||Fixed Cost||Per-Page Cost||Fixed Cost (Large Trim)||Per Page Cost (Large Trim)|
|Paperback||Black ink with 110-828 pages||1.00 USD per book||0.012 USD per page||1.00 USD per book||0.017 USD per page|
|Paperback||Premium color ink with 24-40 pages||3.60 USD per book||None||4.20 USD per book||None|
|Paperback||Premium color ink with 42-828 pages||1.00 USD per book||0.65 USD per page||1.00 USD per book||0.08 USD per page|
|Paperback||Standard color ink with 72-600 pages||1.00 USD per book||0.027 USD per page||1.00 USD per book||0.042 USD per page|
|Hardcover||Black ink with 75-108 pages||6.80 USD per book||None||7.49 USD per book||None|
|Hardcover||Black ink with 110-550 pages||5.65 USD per book||0.012 USD per page||5.65 USD per book||0.017 USD per page|
|Hardcover||Premium color ink with 75-550 pages||5.65 USD per book||0.065 USD per page||5.65 USD per book||0.08 USD per page|
|Paperback||Black ink with 24-108 pages||2.30 USD per book||None||2.84 USD per book||None|
Hardcover vs Paperback
How do hardcovers compare to paperbacks when it comes to Amazon’s printing costs?
Well, as you can see from the chart above, it mainly comes down to the fixed cost. The “Additional Cost Per Page” remains the same for both paperback and hardcover, but since the actual covers are more expensive to produce, the hardcovers have a higher fixed cost (i.e. $5.65 compared to $1.00).
How to Find Your Print Cost
It’s actually easy to find your print cost in Amazon’s KDP dashboard.
Step 1: Open your KDP dashboard
Step 2: Find your book and hover over the right three dots. Then select “Edit print book content”. Make sure you are editing the book content of the paperback/hardcover and not the ebook.
Step 3: Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the Book Content page, and there you will find your printing costs.
And that’s it! Like I said, really easy to find.
How to Reduce Print Costs
So now that we’ve established how Amazon’s printing costs work and where to find the cost for your own books. Let’s discuss how to reduce costs.
Obviously, we can’t do anything to change Amazon’s system, but there are a few ways that we can optimize our book to be on the lower end.
Reduce Font/Line Height
The first way that we can reduce our printer fees is to reduce our page count by lowering the font and/or line height of our book.
(This is really easy to do in Atticus. Just press a few buttons, export and you’re done!)
Keep in mind that lowering the font or line height is not always a good thing. You don’t want your pages to seem overly crowded with text. Instead, you’ll want to make sure everything is still legible and won’t provide a poor reader experience.
That said, you may discover that your font or line height was way larger than it needed to be, so it’s always good to check and ensure you’re at a balanced level.
The second way to reduce your print costs is to make sure you’re using Black Ink instead of Color Ink.
Now, if you’re writing a children’s book or comic book, you’re probably going to need color ink (unless it’s a comic book like The Walking Dead, where black and white is part of the style). So if you absolutely need color, then go for it.
But if you only have one or two illustrations or graphs that need color, consider finding a way to make it work in black and white, because that will significantly reduce your costs.
Your trim size can affect your printing costs. Keeping your trim size at a lower size (like 5″x8″ or 5.5″x8.5″), will keep your costs generally low. Personally, I prefer these sizes anyway, as I don't enjoy bulky books. But the larger sizes can be better for certain genres, or for particularly lengthy books (like textbooks).
If you'd prefer larger books but still want the cheaper trim size, you can go with the largest one they have that's still considered “Regular”, which as of this writing is the 6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm) option.
Go with Paperback
If you’re purely interested in the lowest print costs possible, you’ll want to stick with paperback. Hardcovers have a much higher fixed printing cost.
However, thankfully, you can have both. So if you want to have a paperback AND a hardcover, you can do so. Just know that you will need to price your hardcover significantly higher than your paperback to cover the costs.
The Cheapest Print Cost is Around 110 Pages
If you really want to get optimized for the minimum possible cost for your paperback printing. Try to get your book as close to (but not under) 110 pages long.
Note: these numbers are for black ink. For color it’s closer to 40 pages long.
Well if you look at the chart above, you’ll notice that any book that is under 110 pages long (40 for color), has a fixed cost that is higher than books that are over 110 pages long. But if you go too far over 110 pages, you’re variable costs per page add up.
That means that the lowest possible printing cost that you can have is if your paperback book is exactly 110 pages (again, 40 for color).
Therefore, if your book is close to that range, I recommend trying to adjust your settings just enough to get even closer. You’ll save yourself a lot in the print costs of your book.
Even though print costs are just a small factor in the royalties you receive through KDP print on demand, every little bit adds up. The purpose of this article was to show you how you could optimize this small area for maximum effect.
Let’s say you’re able to reduce your printing costs by $1. Assuming you keep your price the same, that’s $1 more for every paperback sold.
And little wins like that tend to add up.
If you liked this article, we also have one about how to decrease your ebook delivery fees by reducing ebook size. You might like that as well.