You don’t have to consider this if only sending your book to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for online retail, because they manage the print-on-demand (POD) service for you. But if you want to print books yourself, as described in The Difference Between Digital and Offset Printing, here are some tips to help you.
Offset printing is recommended if you’re selling books yourself offline, are selling a large quantity of books on your own website, or are printing a 4-color book that requires the superior print quality that offset printing provides.
When deciding how many books to print, you’ll want to consider a number of factors.
You’ll want to take your budget into consideration. How many books can you afford to print?
How big is your target demographic? You may want to compare with similar books and see how many have been sold. How great is the demand for your type of book?
Unless you are certain that you’ll sell many copies, you may want to start with a small quantity of books. If they sell well, you can always print more. You’ll also be able to see what the finished product looks like. If your book doesn’t sell well or you find you want to make changes, you’ll only have to incur the costs of a small print run.
If you’re confident that you can sell a lot of books, printing a large quantity could be a good idea. Although the initial investment in printing costs will be large, the cost per book will be lower. And you’ll be able to recoup your initial investment when your copies sell as planned.
How many books will you want to give to friends, family, media, or other contacts? Will you aggressively market your book? Will you keep at least a box of books around to hand out or sell to people? Will you be giving away copies for reviews? How many books will you be giving away? Do you have any customers or readers lined up? How concerned are you with turning a good profit? Are you more concerned with simply publishing your book? You very well may want a box of books on-hand to gift to your friends and family.
For those who are selling through Amazon or Barnes & Noble (online), you can fulfill your need by going directly to CreateSpace or NOOK Press, respectively. We can manage that for you.