Not that long ago it was very easy to recognise a self-published book. The design was poor, you didn’t have to look too hard to find errors or other unprofessional touches such as no ISBN or barcode, and numerous other clues. But often the biggest giveaway was obvious before you even opened the book: the quality of the printing was poor. The paper was cheap, the binding was loose (or tight) and the cover lamination peeled off after a few weeks. If you sneezed while holding it the whole book would fall apart. Because self-publishers often print lower quantities, this lower standard of printing was all they had access to.
Fortunately, like many things with self-publishing, printing has changed dramatically in the past decade.
High-quality printing is absolutely pivotal to producing a professional book. Great content, beautiful design and outstanding editing will all be undone with poor-quality printing. A book that doesn’t feel nice when it’s picked up, is difficult to open and has poor reproduction is not a good reflection on you, no matter how well everything else has been done. But with the huge advances in printing technology in recent years, high-quality book printing is now available to everybody.
To judge the print quality of a book it is important to keep in mind some questions such as:
- Do the images look sharp?
- Is the printing even in tone?
- Is the binding solid and the book easy to open?
- Is the paper good quality?
- Is the lamination smooth and even?
- Does the book feel high quality, or does it feel flimsy and cheap?
When researching printing for your book, find out if the printer specialises in book printing, ask them to send you some samples of books they have printed so that you can see what the quality is like before you commit. If you are going to use a self-publishing company, ask them for a sample book as well, so you can be sure they use a high-quality printer.