4

Which print-on-demand (PoD) services allow creating hardcover books of arbitrary dimensions (e.g., 115 × 157 mm)? I'm looking to print 60 copies.

  • 2
    Is there a reason for such a precise and unusual choice of dimensions? Do you really need such precise dimensions or was this more for illustration than an actual requirement? – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 23 at 21:23
  • @Secespitus I've put it as mm now. – Geremia Mar 23 at 22:04
  • Does it have to be PoD, or would short-run printing be any good? – Bob says reinstate Monica Mar 23 at 22:36
  • @Bob I'm looking to print only 60 copies, so probably PoD. – Geremia Mar 23 at 23:56
  • 4
    Depending on the project, if you're printing 60 copies then short-run printing could well be worth a look. I've done runs as short as 10 copies that were cheaper than PoD. The printers I usually use do custom sizes in paperback but not hardback. I don't know of any PoD services that do custom sizes at all. Of course PoD has other advantages like distribution etc. – Bob says reinstate Monica Mar 24 at 12:50
3
+250

Any full-service book printer can create custom sizes if they wish, it just takes more work and costs you more. Printing machinery generally only works with paper of particular sizes. This is why you see stock sizing. And why one printer might do a certain set of sizes and another will do a different set; they have different machines!

If you want something like bookmarks, postcards, or business cards, you order prints of full pages and the printer cuts them for you. When I was pricing bookmarks I noticed two pairs of stock sizes. Every printer only did one of the sets. Turns out there are two types of cardstock printers and each takes different sizes of paper.

So if you want a custom size, no problem. Order a book in whatever stock size is slightly bigger in both dimensions (or just one if you're lucky) then pay extra for the printer to trim it for you.

Here's where it's important to distinguish between true print-on-demand and short printing runs. POD means they literally print one book at a time (though more is fine) and mail it to the purchaser. A printing run means you order X number of books and they prepare them all at once then ship them to you or you pick them up, depending on location.

While a POD printer could trim one book at a time for you, most will decline. The basic trimming machines used to make the edges of a book neat and clean need additional (and often lengthy) setup to be able to cut substantial amounts from a book. Even though 60 books is a lot for a POD order, they just may not be set up to custom trim. A couple of settings for stock sizes, or even multiple trimmers set to specific sizes makes a lot more sense. A regular printer is a lot more likely to have customizable trimming equipment and be happy to use it on your run (with an appropriate upcharge). If a printer does both POD and traditional, they would see your run of 60 books as being on the traditional side. But many printers just don't want to do nonstandard sizes.

The printer with the trimming video above also does short runs of nonstandard trim sizes. Your example of 115 × 157 mm equals 4.53 x 6.18 inches. Their minimum run is 25 copies and the examples show both paper and hard covers. They're in Minnesota and, since you're in the United States per your profile, that should work. Shipping books within the US is cheap.

Unlike other short-run book printers, Bookmobile can produce nonstandard trim sizes, including a square or landscape photo book. We won’t squeeze your photography into a standard trim size like 11″ x 8-1/2″. We can do any trim size from 3″ x 4″ all the way up to 12″ x 12″—and yes, that’s portrait or landscape.

Another printer (serving Canada, the U.K., and the U.S.) doing custom trims on as few as 25 books is Bridgeport Bindery.

The Sigma Trimmer is designed for finishing in a one-off, short- or large-run workflow. It is fully automated with infinite trim variability and accommodates non-standard trim sizes. The trimmer delivers 1,000 fully variable books per hour.

An Illinois company, Total Printing Systems, also uses the Sigma Trimmer (which appears to be a game-changer in the trim trade).

Even though we were batching jobs together, the trimmers we used previously took about 25 minutes to changeover between sizes...With the SigmaTrimming Center, there’s no changeover time at all. I don’t believe there are many trimmers on the market which can make such a claim. What’s more it’s very simple to operate so it helps reduce the cost of our labor.

None of these printers do Print on Demand. So technically I'm not answering your question. Consider my answer a frame challenge. You are looking for a run of 60 books. While you might think only a POD printer could handle such a small run, that is not correct. A short run printer generally takes jobs in the 25-1000 book range (sometimes fewer). I'm answering the question you are actually asking: what printers can do a custom size for 60 hardback books?

To find even more printers than the ones I found, your key phrases for searching are:

  • "nonstandard trim size"
  • "short-run"
  • "Sigma Trimmer" or "SigmaTrimming"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.