Pushing Play - Getting the Book Printed

Who did we use and why?

We initially had aspirations to get the book printed locally in New Zealand. However, after having conversations and receiving quotes from several options, we realised that there are no facilities here that allow case-bound book printing. Where local companies could provide that service, they were simply acting as middlemen for offshore printers which pushed the cost-per-copy price out to a prohibitive place.

Heading Offshore

So we decided to wade out on our own, into the intimidating waters of offshore printers.

We first went to libraries and book stores to research where local picture books were being printed. Not all books list this information and, in fact, many publishers are cagey about revealing this detail for whatever reason. However, we were still able to form a list of around five commonly-used printing options to then contact and hope to be able to work with on our book.

Simple Google searches revealed websites for all of these companies and all listed email addresses or had contact forms to make receiving a quote a relatively simple process. The only tricky part was having all of the information at hand to supply the printer and so receive an accurate quote. 

Initial Quote Specifications

Almost all of the printing companies we contacted requested the following specifications for the book:

  • Working title
  • Page size/orientation
  • Spine size
  • Hard or soft cover
  • Cover specs (colour, paper stock, boards, any spot gloss)
  • Section sewn/Perfect binding
  • Paper stock (for text and end papers)
  • Print run
  • Shipping address

All of the companies we requested quotes from - all from various parts of Asia - were quick to reply and clear in their communications. This wasn't scary at all! There was definitely a range of price-points in the quotes and varying depths of information they supplied back about their process.

Since this was our first foray into the self-publishing world, we decided to opt for a company which had a local agent to help guide us and advocate for us through the printing phase.

Asia Pacific Offset (APO)

Barbara Nielsen lives in Auckland and represents Asia Pacific Offset (APO), a printing company based in Hong Kong. After meeting with her and getting a gauge on how she and APO operate, we decided to pull the trigger - even though we were paying a small premium, compared to other options, to do so.

How many copies to get printed?

The final, crucial, decision we had to make was just how many copies of our book we were going to print. The minimum amount we found we could get a quote for was 250 - not a number to sneeze at considering we have no idea if we have a product that will sell. While the cost-per-copy at this amount is manageable, by printing even 100 more copies, that number dramatically decreases to the point where if you print 1000 copies it's almost a third of the price.

We ended up settling on an optimistic 500 copies as it wasn't prohibitively more expensive to make the jump from 250 to 500. Another consideration in this decision was the fact that shipping makes up a huge chunk of the cost of this process, so we've taken a gamble on the extra copies to save us the potential cost of another print run.

Supplying Your Files


When a book is printed, the pages are printed on two double-sided sheets, with each side of the sheet containing eight pages. The confusing part about this is that the pages are printed in a seemingly nonsense order that bears no resemblance to the order in your design, this is in fact called “impositioning”.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to supply the impositioned pages ourselves, however, we did have to supply the pages as single pages. That meant adapting our design:

Had to be supplied as this:

For a 32 page book this was relatively simple, but I can imagine if you’re designing a large, full-colour book this would be quite scary; as turning double-page spreads into single pages makes it hard to spot mistakes in things like alignment.


To be safe, APO had us provide each individual page with bleed on all four sides, even though not all sides of a page will have their bleed printed.


As is standard for printing, all images needed to be CMYK. When illustrating however, it's often best to use RGB as that offers more editing options in Photoshop. When moving from Photoshop to Affinity you can then convert RGB to CMYK.


Ozalids are a roughly-bound low resolution printout of the book that shows all the pages in order, and includes bleed marks and crop marks.

This form of printed proof allows you to make sure that your pages are in the right order and that you have adequate bleed on your images. If you don’t have adequate bleed on your images, your printer will more than likely point this out to you when they put this together for you.

Wet Proofs

Wet proofs are very expensive proofs made to simulate the final printing product as closely as possible. Your book is run through the actual printing press and allows you to see how the colours will actually look when printed on your chosen paper stock.

Book Printing Specs

Here are the specs of our book that you can use as a reference if you ever want to put together a quote for a book of your own.

Trim Page Size:
10” (height) x 8” (width) (203.2mm x 254mm)

32page Text + 2x4 page Endpapers + Case (spine width 8.5mm)

32 pages

4 colour (process color)
157gsm Matt Art paper

2x4 page endpapers
4 colour (process colour)
140gsm Woodfree paper

4 colour (process color)
Non-scuff matt lamination
Spot gloss UV on 157gsm
Glossy Art Paper
Board: 2.5mm Greyboard, squareback

Section sewn in 16 pages


Thanks for reading, we hope you found this useful :)