How much it costs to get a book published depends on several factors whether you self-publish, use the services of a vanity/subsidy publisher, the format of the book, and the type of printer you use.
If you're thinking of self-publishing there are several ways to publish a book. For these examples the assumption is made the book has been written, edited and formatted. Any graphics for the cover or for use inside the book are not included in this cost comparison. The cost depends on how the book is published, the physical format of the book itself and how many copies are required.
Books in digital format, or e-books, have the lowest publication cost. No paper or ink is required. A four-color printing process is unnecessary. Because there are no hard copies of the book, there are no inventory or warehousing costs. The cost to the author is the fee charged by the payment processor to process the sale from the customer.
Print on demand
Print-on-demand, or POD, is a technology that allows one copy of a book to be printed and bound on an economic basis. Most POD printers use the trade paperback format. A trade paperback book's size is 5 inches by 7 inches, perfect bound - pages are glued to the spine, and has a four-color glossy cover. Most POD printers charge a cost (about $100) to set up the book as a Portable Document Format, Adobe Acrobat, PDF file. The cost per copy to the author is based on the number of pages in the book. A 250-page book with a four-color cover costs about $5.00. Books can be ordered one at a time, printed and delivered to a customer. Or the author can order 10, 20, or more copies at one time.
International Standard Book Number
If the book will be offered for sale to online booksellers, brick-and-mortar bookstores or retail establishments, the book must have an International Standard Book Number, or ISBN. The ISBN identifies the publisher, book title and format. Retailers will not order a book that does not have an ISBN. The ISBN can be bought in blocks of 10 from Bowkers for $275.00, plus a small publisher registration fee. The book must also have a barcode, which can be also bought.
Publish on demand
Publish-on-demand publishers use the print-on-demand technology to print the books they offer. Publish-on-demand publishers, considered vanity or subsidy publishers, acquire the ISBN for the author. Additional marketing services are offered for a cost. Packages run from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
A few publish-on-demand publishers sell books for their authors on a cost-plus-commission basis. While a POD copy costs about $5.00, a publish-on-demand copy costs the author from $7.50 to $10. The cost is based on the number of pages. The additional fee is the profit for the publish-on-demand publisher.
Offset printing is the least-expensive means of publishing a book on a per-copy basis. The downside is that at least 500 books must be printed at one time to be cost-effective. The copies must be paid for in advance, too. The printer charges the author to ship the books as well. A print run of 2,000 copies of a 250-page book with four-color cover is roughly $2 a copy, a significant decrease from the POD cost.