Custom Book Printing and Binding Services for Self-Publishers

Increasingly, successful self-publishers choose custom services to print and bind their books. We take a look at the most popular formats and bindings and examine the benefits of choosing a fully customized service for your self-published book project

Custom book printing and binding

Photo by Jonathan Borba via

Who uses custom offset book printing services?

Writers of all stripes — literary and genre novelists; biographers and memoirists; academics, historians, and science writers; children’s authors; photographers, artists, and others besides — choose self-publishing; either as their first choice or as an added option for works about which they’re passionate but don’t fit with their agents’ and editors’ schedules or tastes. Whether you’re a long-time independent creative, a represented novelist or non-fiction writer with a multi-book publishing deal, or a complete newbie, sooner or later, you’ll want to explore the creative and financial possibilities that custom book printing and binding services for self-publishers can offer you.

What are the advantages of custom printing and binding services for self-publishers?

Custom offset printing services are free from the limitations and constraints of the print-on-demand (POD) companies. So rather than having to tailor your book to what the digital-only printer can achieve, with custom offset printing, we tailor your book to your creative and market needs. The services offered by POD are neither broad in scope nor flexible. Basically, you can have a standard trade paperback or a very limited option on hardcover design. Custom printing opens the door wide on the whole gamut of creative options.

You can also enjoy a price advantage. In short, the more copies you print in a single run, the cheaper the cost-per-unit. But you needn’t print thousands of copies if you don’t want to. It’s a common misunderstanding that to take advantage of custom book printing, you’re obliged to walk away with a warehouse worth of books! It’ not true. For example, we offer a minimum run of 100 copies. For reference, if those copies were trade paperbacks, they’d fill about two standard household bookshelves or book boxes.

Custom book printing options

So, what options are open to you if you choose custom book printing and binding services? Literally, anything you want. For example, here at QinPrinting we have both digital and offset printing machines equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art technology; a universal choice of paper types, weights, and colors; full-color press; any coatings and finishes you can dream of including lamination, gloss, silk, matte, and UV spot coating; and all the fancy extras such as embossing, debossing, die-cutting, foil stamping, and more.

In terms of binding, the world’s your oyster with custom book printing. Choose from hardcover/hardback with or without a dust jacket or a slip case; paperback/softback in standard sizes or customized dimensions; self-covers; wire-o binding and spiral bound books, board books, and saddle-stitch. Whichever is the best fit for your book printing project, we can do it.

While we’ll do anything you want in terms of printing your book — it’s your project, after all! — we’ll also offer you advice about the most popular formats and styles, market expectations, and so on, while taking your budget into consideration. That way, we can collaborate to give you the best-fit product without breaking the bank. Here’s a quick look at the most popular kinds of books that our clients come to us to print:

  • Comic books — we love comics ourselves and we’ve been printing them for decades. Everything from black-and-white only newspaper style comics and saddle-stitched or perfect bound color stories to full-blown, hard case graphic novels, we handle it all with expertise, precision, and professionalism.
  • Children’s books — this is one area where authors aren’t served at all by the limitations of digital-only or POD printers. If you need a board book, a pop-up book, an unusual format, full-color gloss printing, illustrations, or other features typical of children’s books, you’ll need custom book printing and binding services.
  • Coffee table books — coffee table books have been popular since at least the beginning of the last century. But the rising trend for creating your own self-published coffee table book is a challenge that we’ve met with great success. Whether a family history, a memoir, a photo journal, an art book, an illustrated travelogue, or something else, we’re specialists in making stunning, original display books to enhance your interior decoration, make a statement about your style and values, and provide a talking point for your dinner guests.
  • Coloring books — while the ‘boom’ in coloring books for adults has settled down a little now, we still print lots of these designed for children as well as adults. Our clients have printed coloring books for fun, for educational and therapeutic purposes, or as entrepreneurs, selling them at profit on- and offline.
  • Photobooks — perennially popular, the photobook is another project that you won’t be able to print with a POD service. Most of our requests for photobooks come from amateur and professional photographers who want to make a smart, stylish, and very professional portfolio to show off their work to best advantage.
  • Educational books — academics, tutors, and non-fiction writers of all stripes often need specialized formatting, diagrams, large sizes, and other features which only a custom offset printer can provide.
  • Art books — as with the photographers, many visual artists — painters, sculptors, doll-makers, and others — often need a high-quality volume in which to present their work. The artbook may be a simple record or retrospective, it may serve as a high-end catalog for an exhibition, or as a creative project in its own right. Only a custom printing service can give you the color reproduction and high-definition printing which you need to faithfully represent your works on the printed page.

Custom book binding options

Printing is only one aspect of making beautiful books. The pages need binding, too. Book binding is an art and science in its own right, and we take great pride in making a full range of attractive, practical, stylish, and economical bindings suited to every possible book printing project. Here are the main options from which you can choose:

  • Hardcover binding — hardcovers are premium quality bindings for books that have a high value such as first edition novels, collections, art books, coffee table books, children’s gift books, and more. This a binding option for books to treasure and that will take pride of place on the bookshelf. They’re also known as hardbacks or case bound books.
  • Paperback binding — paperback binding probably needs no introduction. It’s the form of binding, with a ‘block’ of pages glued into a cover made of heavier paper or lightweight card stock, which fill most of the shelves of your local bookstore, and the stand at the rail station or the airport. Inexpensive, light, and portable, they’re books to be read on the move as well as added to the personal household library.
  • Saddle-stitch binding — a popular choice for books with fewer pages, such as comics, children’s books, coloring books, and others, the interior pages and covers are literary stitched together — and sometimes stapled — with binding thread.
  • Spiral binding — often the best choice for workbooks, practical manuals, recipe books, certain kinds of text books, calendars, and diaries. The pages are hole-punched and bound together using a coil of durable, flexible plastic often with laminated or vinyl covers. This kind of binding means that the books can be laid completely flat and the pages flipped through 360 degrees.
  • Wire-o binding — similar to spiral binding, wire-o binding uses a wire spring coiled through the pages. You may have seen this kind of binding in note books at the stationary store. It’s handy for several applications where you need to keep the costs down and the book needn’t be tightly bound or especially durable.

How to choose a custom book printing and binding service

To get the best experience and the highest-quality printed product while staying on budget — and we understand how important that aspect is, especially to independent creatives and self-publishers — you’ll need to choose your printer with care. A good printer should offer all of the following:

  • Personalized service — you should be able, if you wish, to talk to a real person, not just go through an automated online process. Also, that person should be a knowledgeable expert and member of the printing team, not someone from an outsourced call center who doesn’t really know anything about printing or respect your needs as an individual creative.
  • Design support — while you’ll need to engage a designer to prepare your book files, a good custom printer should always be on hand to offer technical support and advice, along with samples, templates, and anything else that will help make sure that your book is properly and accurately prepped for printing.
  • Full range service — again, a reputable and serious custom printing company will have an extensive stock of papers, coatings, finishing, and and so on while offering a selection of formats and binding options to suit your needs.
  • Free, no-obligation quote — avoid any company that makes you pay for a quote. Any reputable company will not only advise you about how to get the best product within your budget, but will provide you with a quote free of charge and with no obligation on your part.
  • Prepress file checking — too many companies will just accept your files, take your money, and print. But what if there were errors in the files? Not their problem, they’ll tell you. But an honest, reputable custom printer will go the extra mile and hand check all your files to make sure they’re error free and truly ‘print ready’ before making up the plates and setting the press rolling.
  • Proof copies — no good custom printing company would let you go to press without first providing you with a proof copy of your book to approve first. 
  • Storage and shipping — as a self-publisher or independent creative, you’ll need a printer that can also store your books for you if needed and offers a range of shipping options — including land, sea, and air — to suit your calendar and budget needs.

Why choose QinPrinting to print your books?

The first answer to that question, is that we offer all of the options and services described above. As we’re based in Shanghai, we can offer very competitive pricing, even accounting for shipping costs, compared with the local US market. Also, we’re a hardworking team who share a real passion for the work we do and a genuine commitment to the quality of the services that we provide. Added to that, our products are second-to-none. Unlike many printing services, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and the personal care we offer all our clients.

Whatever your book projects, get in touch to talk through your needs. We won’t charge you to chat! Whether you’d like to call us direct on the telephone, write to us via email, use our contact form, or chat live online, we’re here for you. Let’s talk! We can’t wait to welcome you into our family of happy customers and collaborate with you to make your next book the most beautiful and successful yet!