A Brief Guide to Printing Offset | Blurb Blog

A Brief Guide to Printing Offset
03 Jul 2017

A Brief Guide to Printing Offset

Blurb’s Large Order Services team gets lots of questions from authors and businesses wondering if offset book printing is right for their project. Every case is different, but here are some things to consider when deciding if it’s right for your book.

While the bulk of Blurb’s books are printed digitally, when your volume gets higher, offset might be the right choice. Digital books are an efficient way to print as few as one book at a time. Offset is an older, more traditional method of book printing. Each set of pages needs to have 4 custom plates made for each of the 4 inks used in printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black). The press itself is the size of a small warehouse floor, and when the press is run, it does so one time. It’s not possible to go back and print a few extra books with offset. Nor is it possible to print a single completed proof book prior to the press run, like we can with digital printing.

The Advantages of Offset Book Printing

Unlike digital printing, offset printing becomes much more cost-effective as quantity goes up.

Unlike digital printing, offset printing becomes much more cost-effective as quantity goes up, provided you are printing a high enough number of books. Our minimum volume for offset printing is 750 copies for photo books. It’s a bit higher for trade books and magazines, because it takes a higher volume to be cost-effective compared to digital printing. As you get into the thousands of books, you’ll see significant savings over our base retail prices—even past our very best digital pricing. Because each offset project is a custom job, which Large Order Services needs to consider individually, quotes can take 5-10 business days.

The production and shipping time will be longer for an offset print run than a digital one. We have offset printers in both the United States and China. Orders from China will take around 12 weeks from start to finish, provided there are no changes to the files. Orders printed in the US will take 8-10 weeks. This translates to a longer wait, but the pricing will be the absolute best Blurb can offer on book printing.

…the tradeoff is that the pricing will be the absolute best pricing Blurb can offer on book printing.

Offset printing is a bit more involved than using Blurb’s basic printing functions. This is where Large Order Services becomes your secret book printing weapon. Until recently, offset book printing was only available to professional printers making many thousands of books. Blurb makes it possible, and cost-effective, to print smaller runs. The Large Order Services team will consult with you to determine if offset is the right solution for your book. Then, we’ll start moving forward, getting pricing and files in place. We’ll handle all the technical details. We’ll deal with the offset printer directly, working with you to make sure your budget, and timeline runs smoothly. Right up to delivery of all those new books.

Wondering whether offset printing is the right choice for you? Contact Large Order Services today.


Josh Flanagan

Josh Flanagan is Blurb’s Large Order Services Manager.

  • Offset makes sense for larger quantities. But if you’re just starting out, it’s best to hold off. Especially if you don’t have the space to store all of the copies.