Print Options

Print Options

Offset printing

This is the way books have been traditionally been printed for the larger trade and educational book markets. Books are printed in big sheets on large, fast machines, and you’ll need to order over 1000 copies for this to be a cost-effective option. In New Zealand, for economic reasons, most offset books are printed in Asia and then freighted back; time frames are therefore important, as is having someone who is familiar with printing terminology in New Zealand to oversee the process. You’ll need to allow three months for offshore printing and freight, and there is also customs clearance/cost to consider.

There are local (NZ) printers who are cost-effective, particularly for the shorter print runs, and they have a quick turnaround time. As ever, however, ask to see samples.

Print-on-demand (POD)

POD is digital printing that allows small numbers – just one or two copies, even – to be printed to order. Its obvious advantage over offset printing is that you are freed from having to order large print runs and then worrying whether they’ll sell (or where to store them!). POD books can be priced online and copies produced in a few weeks. Note, however, that choice of format and paper stock, and overall quality, will be limited, and the unit price (the cost of printing each copy) is usually high compared to offset. Also, do ask to see samples before you accept any quotations.

Some offshore POD services will print and freight your books directly to your customer.


If you are just starting out and want to gain some market feedback, skipping the print option and beginning with an e-book may be the better way to go. The formatting is super-quick, and the costs are dramatically lower than print. Distribution, too, is easy: through online stores such as Amazon your e-book can be made available to an unlimited international market. For those reasons, everyone’s doing it! So there’s a lot of competition out there.

The good news is that when we at Smartwork prepare files for a print book, we ensure they are ‘cross-platform’ and can be easily adapted for an e-book.

The format of your e-book, though, is still something that needs to be decided. If it’s straight text, an epub file would be best, but if there are lots of images you may need to consider a fixed layout or app. With instructional material, lots of people like to have the book they are studying next to them on their desk or table, as a reference, to make notes in, to highlight for later study. If you know your readers and their habits, you won’t want to omit this from your plan.


Do watch our blog for a more in-depth breakdown on print and e-books.
Do you have a preference and any advice to share?