How to print a softcover with larger spine

Printing, binding, promotion and the business side of engraving.
NeeraWM
Posts: 210
Joined: 30 Nov 2021, 12:11

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by NeeraWM »

In theory, I agree with POD being the best solution but, as we discussed already, Halstan is no longer doing it.
Luckily, I found a distributor, otherwise I would have kept searching for POD options. But what about shipping prices? In EU the printer offered 15EUR shipping for a single package… that’s a lot!
Let’s take this edition as an example: printing 50 copies costs a bit less than 8EUR each. Printing 15 costs 14EUR each. Printing less than 10 would pass way beyond 20 or 30EUR per copy. Who would buy a couple of string quartets at 70+ EUR + shipping? Prices have generally gone up, but …

Sure, you can say: print 1 for 30EUR, sell for 60+shipping, win 30EUR. Spend nothing in advance. For this title it could work.
For smaller titles, sold for much lower prices, it likely wouldn’t…
I printed one title (100 copies) with Halstan, at 2,20EUR per copy. One copy would have been 13.50+shipping & handling, which would be 1EUR shy of the retail price… I wish it weren’t like this, but I had months of e-mail exchanges with them (and others). Aurioprint works with this new distributor, Bernd & Nicklas (or something like that), and each one (them+retailer+couriers in between) takes 30-40% cut on the POD, plus you pay the printing. Of the cover price, 10% maybe stays with you… not worthy, sincerely…

I am going to run this printing for two years and see how it goes. If it goes bad, of course I will go back to POD while ensuring a good enough margin.
User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1767
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by OCTO »

NeeraWM wrote: 03 May 2023, 20:19But what about shipping prices? In EU the printer offered 15EUR shipping for a single package… that’s a lot!
It depends where you send. Halstan sends to DE for about 4€ inside DE, and to SWE 15€! Of course, they use DHL.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 27.5 • Sibelius 2024.3• MuseScore 4+ • Logic Pro X+ • Ableton Live 11+ • Digital Performer 11 /// MacOS Monterey (secondary in use systems: Fedora 35, Windows 10)
NeeraWM
Posts: 210
Joined: 30 Nov 2021, 12:11

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by NeeraWM »

I've asked the printer: one copy of this is 110 EUR + shipping for me ... assuming a reasonable margin, who would ever buy this?
I certainly wouldn't, and I know the quality of the piece and of the engraving ...
Hector Pascal
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Oct 2021, 23:15

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by Hector Pascal »

I have been researching this area for a few years and it is great to read your posts on the subject. Things that I have learned so far include:

• nearly all my customers are choosing PDF scores over hard copy scores. I suspect that's partly to avoid surface delivery charges.
• Sales and Marketing is pretty important in making people aware of your products' existence;
• A hybrid model of in-house and outsourced printing is worth consideration.

With regard to the hybrid model, it obviously involves a level of capital expenditure (printer, paper stocks, toner, staples, etc). and time investment, but you might imagine a scenario where you produce the string quartet parts yourself in-house and outsource the production (or the finishing) of the 70+ page score to a third party print shop. You will be best positioned to know if that's a possibility for your business case, or not.

Regarding the slip case idea, I am currently researching commercially available folders and document wallets to suit a similar purpose.

Anyway, thank you for the thread and posts and good luck with everything!
Cheers,
HP.
NeeraWM
Posts: 210
Joined: 30 Nov 2021, 12:11

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by NeeraWM »

Thanks Hector!
The reason that brought me to inquire about printing is that my music is mostly pedagogical in nature so far, and schools & academies only allocate budget for buying physical scores, not PDF ones they then need to print & bind themselves.
Unfortunately I do not have space for in-house printing, and distribution is another issue. Shipping costs for ordinary people (that is: you go to the post office and ship) is absurdly high. To lower that, it seems you need to buy an amount of shipping labels from the post or courier based on how many items you plan to ship. Until you get there, it is very hard. It seems there is no intermediary step—in 2023—between one struggling to sell/print/package/ship a few copies per month to selling hundreds per month.
E.g.: if someone buys a score from me, and I need to ship it by myself in the EU, it costs at least 25 EUR if I want it tracked (which the customer would expect). In my same country it would be around 10 EUR (still high from my point of view), and worldwide would be up to 100 EUR...
The distributors have deals with the couriers—i.e., they bought thousands of labels all together—so that they can ship worldwide, tracked, for 4-10 EUR! There's no competition with that!
Plus, as OCTO said, where do you store the music you print? Sadly, for people like me who are starting this now, the PoD seems out of reach: no printer wants to do that or, if they do, the price is too high (see above example). Distributors to music shops are getting even worse: printing cost + 30% to the distributor + 30-40% to the shop... what stays for you? I counted it 2-5% per copy ... but I would pay taxes on a much higher amount due to how business works in my country, so it would then result in a loss of 30-40% for each item sold!!!

RE. the Sales and Marketing ... I have no clue how to get more visibility. That is, I publish something, I promote on social networks, send e-mails to schools and colleagues, but that's it. Has someone found a reproducible way that they would be willing to share? In my experience, paying Google or Facebook for visibility has brought nothing.
Hector Pascal
Posts: 95
Joined: 17 Oct 2021, 23:15

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by Hector Pascal »

Full credit to you, NeeraWM, for your perseverance! I agree 100% that there are a crazy number of hurdles to jump and many different hats to wear! I am more into concert sheet music rather than pedagogical materials so my marketing tends to be synchronised closely with premiere & performance dates or radio broadcasts or recording releases. In regard to storage space, there is never enough... I share my bedroom with 4 filing cabinets, a tower of cardboard mailing boxes and a guillotine lol! Maybe through this forum I hope we can continue to support each other and continue posting any good ideas from time to time...

Wishing you all the best,
Hector.
NeeraWM
Posts: 210
Joined: 30 Nov 2021, 12:11

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by NeeraWM »

Thank you so much Hector!
I hope the summer will give me some more breathing room to get back to writing on the blog as I have overdue articles on all my experience in this matter—good, bad, ugly!—and, since I found so little when I started—and if it weren't for OCTO I may have never started in the first place—I believe it has to be shared.
I will post links as I have them!
All the best
Neera
User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1767
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: How to print a softcover with larger spine

Post by OCTO »

For those seeking to create educational materials, Lightning Source is a potentially suitable choice to explore. While the service is limited to saddle-stitch binding for documents up to 44 pages in A4/Letter size and does not offer larger formats or stay-flat books, it is an economical option that provides direct placement of titles on major online retailers such as Amazon. The process of utilizing Lightning Source is simple and does not require running own webshop, as all transactions are processed automatically by LS with earned bonuses sent directly to the publisher.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 27.5 • Sibelius 2024.3• MuseScore 4+ • Logic Pro X+ • Ableton Live 11+ • Digital Performer 11 /// MacOS Monterey (secondary in use systems: Fedora 35, Windows 10)
Post Reply