Thursday, March 01, 2012

Color Is Wonderful ...

... Except for the Cost: Color printing is not as expensive as it used to be, but it is still up there. CreateSpace, my current favorite print-on-demand company, charges $2.77 for a 160-page trade paperback, small format, color cover with bw interior. If you want the same book in color, you will pay $12.07, more than four times as much. The black and white version needs a retail price of $15 to $20 to be economically viable. The color version needs a retail price of $60 to $80 to work. That's not going to work in most situations.

What do you do if your book needs color? Two of my customers are in this situation and have chosen two different approaches. 
  • Author #1 wrote a how-to book for art teachers. She wanted the book to be in color, mainly to show off the projects. However, at CreateSpace, the black and white version was going to cost $2.55 while the color version was going to cost $10.79. She figured she could easily sell the black and white book for $20.00, a price that was more than workable in my opinion. However, she did not think she could sell the color book for more than $30.00, which is well below the retail price she would need in order to sell the book on Amazon or in stores. However, the $30 price would work okay if she sold the book directly to teachers at her workshops. Because some prospective customers told her they would buy the color book for $30.00 rather than the black and white book for $20.00, she decided to try a color version as a test. Two things made the test reasonable. First, it was a relatively simple matter (and therefore inexpensive) for me to create a color version by replacing the grayscale images with color ones. Second, CreateSpace charges a tiny setup fee for a new book. The book is not ready yet, so we do not know if her prospects will really spend the extra $10 for the color version. We also do not know if it will be worth it for her to take a smaller profit on the color version in order to satisfy her customers. In this case, the test is inexpensive and therefore low-risk.
  • Author #2 wrote a business book that requires color charts. She believes she can sell many books through her speaking engagements and therefore is willing to risk an offset printing of 2,000 books, which brings the unit cost of her book below $5.00 and makes a $20.00 retail price reasonable. The only question, which remains to be answered, is whether she can sell those 2,000 books. The inventory risk is high, but the author's speaking credentials reduce the risk. This is a publishing model that works.  The Publishing Pro, LLC

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