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How To Use Digital Printing To Self-publish Hardbacks Cost-Effectively

How to Use Digital Printing to Self-publish Hardbacks Cost-Effectively

Headshot of Saskia Watts

Saskia Watts of IngramSpark

It's easy for indie authors to think binary when it comes to deciding how to self-publish a new book: paperback or ebook. (The third option of audio tends to come later, once a book's established.) So today we're examining another format that's often overlooked on the assumption that it's either not possible or prohibitively expensive for indies. Saskia Watts of ALLi Partner member IngramSpark explains why a hardback might be a worthwhile addition to your catalogue , and how to use the hardback effectively as part of your marketing strategy.

Whilst choosing a paperback format is the most common route for self-publishers when releasing a new title or edition, it is important to remember that hardback books also have their merits.

Hardback editions of indie author titles can be an important selling tool in the life cycle of the book. Whether they are released before the paperback, to either incentivise libraries to stock the title (although they will also consider paperbacks) or to garner editorial reviews, or after the paperback as a special edition, to commemorate a special date or be used as a prize, hardbacks are worth considering.

What Do Hardbacks Offer Indie Authors?

1) Premium and Custom Production Values

At IngramSpark®, for example, we offer a wide variety of trim sizes for hardback editions, and with added extras such as dust jackets and stamping on the cover and spine, your book could have a real feel of luxury. As books are ever increasingly being given as thoughtful, coveted gifts and a beautifully crafted, hardback edition of your title could not only mean happy customers but also more margin for you.

2) Greater Profit Potential

Let's take a 210 page, 5x 8, B&W Cloth Bound hardback title printed with IngramSpark®. Priced at £18.99 with a 40% wholesale discount, you could be walking away with £4.68 publisher compensation per title sold. For the same title, as a paperback with an RRP of £8.99, you would receive £2.31 per copy.

3) Marketing Value

A prime reason to produce a hardback edition of any title, be it a children's book, novel or collection of short stories is to use them as exclusive gifts during a competition you may choose to run, or at any special events in your calendar. This is a great way to whip up some excitement for your title, whether it is yet to be released in paperback or if it has already been on the market for a few months and you wish to build up momentum once again. It not only shows you are serious, and invested in your work, but it is also a way to attract new fans, who are drawn to aesthetically pleasing products.

4) More Options for Booksellers

Having a hardback edition of your title set up and enabled for distribution on your IngramSpark account also allows bookstores more choice in which format to stock your book in. With the imminent launch of ipage®, bookstores now have more opportunity to order from Ingram's catalogue of over 14 million titles, and with free shipping on orders going to a UK address, they benefit from ordering directly from us.

How Much do Hardbacks Cost?

It is important to remember that as hardbacks are more expensive to produce, they are more expensive for you to purchase.

It is best to begin with small print runs, to make sure you are not left with surplus copies once competitions and sales begin to slow down.

Having a limited print run will also make the title more sought after and collectible. Below is an example of the cost of 50 copies of our example 5 x 8 hardback book previously mentioned, being printed and shipped within the UK.

Order form

How to Fund a Hardback

If you are concerned about the popularity of a hardback edition, a great way to gauge interest is to raise money with a crowdfunding campaign on websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Setting goals and offering rewards, such as a copy of your hardback title, or a handwritten letter will allow you to monitor enthusiasm as well as ensuring you are not going over budget or selling yourself short.

  • Ingram SparkTo learn more about IngramSpark®, including a Print & Shipping Calculator and Publisher Compensation Calculator click here.
  • If you are aware of a bookstore who may be interested in ipage® , click here.



OVER TO YOU What has been your experience of self-publishing hardbacks? Feel free to tell us your case study and share your top tips!

Why #selfpub #authors should consider hardbacks as part of their offer to readers - by @IngramSpark Click To Tweet


Author: Saskia Watts

Saskia Watts is the Marketing Co-ordinator at Ingram Content Group, the world’s largest distributor of physical and digitally published content. She recently graduated from Oxford Brookes University, where she cemented her love for the book industry and obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Publishing Media. Saskia has particular interests in the poetry sector, as well as book production.


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Interesting. Since I have published three massive reference works (500+ pages), I’ve debated creating hardback copies especially for the library market. Thanks for the info, will look further into this.

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