Board Book Printing: Some Things to Know About the Process

Printed books are still big business, despite the fear that ebooks would take over the market. In 2019 alone, the physical  book publishing  market size in the United States was 5.8 billion dollars!

The bigger this market grows, the more the competition creeps up as well. This means that to stand out as a children’s author, you are going to have to think outside of the box. Or look into board book printing. 

But what is a board book? It’s when the children’s books are printed on thicker paperboard-like material. A lot of baby books come in this form because it has more of a tactile feeling to it, which babies seem to love.

It’s also a great way to feature bold colorful illustrations made for young ones.

Publisher’s Weekly says that  board book sales  are on the rise, which is good news for any author interested in publishing one. Read on to see what the board book printing process looks like at a glance. 

board book printing

Step 1. Look for a Publisher

You might have written a board book (or picture book) and started searching for a traditional publisher. But once you exhaust that search and realize it’s too much of a hassle, you decide to go for the self-publishing option

Good for you, but board book printing isn’t as simple as publishing an eBook or any other basic novel. Board book printing is so specialized that most publishers will not touch it with a long pole.

In fact, places that usually do self-publishing, companies like Lulu, or Createspace, do not deal with custom board books. 

Thus, the first step in your board book printing process would be to find a publisher that can work with you and with a digital print of your board book. Offset printing is also a possibility here.

The most experienced board book printers are located in China, so that’s probably where you will end up searching.

Step 2. Figure Out How Many You Will Order

A thing to keep in mind with most board book publishers is that they are setting up for your order, which takes time and effort on their part. To avoid charging high setup fees, they usually have a minimum order rule.

It could be something like 500 or 1000 board books. This is the minimum. 

If you are not sure that you can sell 500 or 1000 of your books, you will have to reconsider the whole thing. And think about making the books yourself, using cardboard and paint.

But that’s never a great option – it never looks exactly as if it were made by a professional. 

Another thing to remember here is to get an actual sample of your order before ordering 500 or 1000 copies. It’s always important to see what your final order will look like. It will cost around a couple of hundred dollars but is well worth the price.

This way, you can fix any errors in printing right away, rather than after you receive 1000 copies with errors in them. What a nightmare!

Step 3. Next Comes Fulfillment of Your Orders

The problem with a lot of these board book publishers is that they will only do one-off printing jobs. This means that if you are shipping one book at a time to customers around the world, that’s fine. But what if you want to do a bulk order?

What if you are doing a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo order, where dozens, even hundreds of customers will need their order fulfilled almost at once? 

Well, then, you would have to do the fulfillment yourself. You can get the books published by your board book publisher (wherever they are located). And then fulfill the orders through CrowdSupply or another service. 

Shipping is another cost to consider here. If you are getting your board books printed by a publisher in China and shipped to the United States, because board books are heavy, they will cost a lot in shipping charges. 

It might cancel out if your printer in China is doing the job for much cheaper than a US printer might. But consider both avenues in your calculations.

Step 4. Get an ISBN – You Can’t Sell a Book Without It

You may have seen those black and white codes at the back of books, and never thought twice about them. But you cannot sell a book without one. 

The process is quite simple. You have to go online to, which is run by Bowker. This is the only company that is authorized to sell ISBNs in the United States, and they can sell you one-off ISBNs, or in bulk – 10, 100, or 1000. 

Each country has its own rules and regulations about ISBNs and the method of sale. Do some research and figure out how to get an ISBN for your board book. The board book printing process is not complete without it.

Step 5. Decide on the Right Pricing for Your Board Book

The problem with board books is that after all is said and done, the cost of printing and fulfilling them is rather expensive. This means that the cost of your board book will have to be set with that in mind. 

If you are doing crowdsourcing, using Kickstarter, then you will have to ensure that your target market (parents of babies who read board books) will be able to afford what you are selling to them. 

It’s a fine balance to work at, but with cheap and effective board book publishers, you will come out on top.

Lots to Consider Here but Board Book Printing Is the Wave of the Future

If you want to get the attention of a sleep-deprived parent, the best thing is to sell them something that distracts their energetic baby. Board books are a great tool for this.

Once you learn the intricacies of board book printing, it’s smooth sailing. You can be printing hundreds of these custom board books every year. 

If you are a children’s book author interested in learning more about reliable and affordable board book printers in China, please check out our services. 

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