I work for a US state DOT. We are trying to print our new standard specifications for construction. When we published in 2018, we got 1,000 copies for about $11/book. This time, we advertised for bids and got prices ranging from $100/book to $150/book! We expected prices to be higher due to the book being longer and ongoing supply chain issues, but not that high! Other states are having their books printed for $10 - $30 per book.
Below are our printing requirements. Other than the page count, the preferred options are the same as our 2018 book, and we allowed lots of flexibility. Does anyone see anything that stands out as being the likely driver of the increased cost?
- Size - 8.5" x 11"
- No. of copies - option to bid on printing 1, 50, 100, 500, or 1,000 copies
- No. of pages - 1,376 plus cover (2018 book was 800)
- Cover - Kivar 3-17 white cover stock preferred, alternative paper type option will be considered but shall be durable, able to withstand the elements, and be comparable to the current book. 4 color cover.
- Paper - 40 pound preferred, substitutions allowed
- Content - black and white text with bleeds (thumb tabs)
- Binding - soft cover preferred, hard cover acceptable, any suitably durable binding, one volume strongly preferred, but will do two volumes if we have no choice
Ultimately, we just want a durable printed book, and have relatively few "must-have" elements. If anyone sees an obvious driver of the high cost, we would greatly appreciate you pointing it out!
Edit: Regarding the length, we certainly know that's a factor, but that can't be helped or changed. However, we don't think it can be the sole driving factor behind how much the printing bids are simply because of how many similar large books there are. Think of old phone books from major cities (https://images.app.goo.gl/ur4HDYQiU7c1mbgEA), catalogs like the MSC Big Book (https://images.app.goo.gl/ZvBdHuA344MvUWRf6), books like the Krause World Coins catalog (https://images.app.goo.gl/6NSqZ87r6jddYYpVA), and numerous other long books. These are all significantly larger than our book in both page count and spine thickness, and are (or were) either distributed free or for a nominal fee, or sold (presumably at a profit) for far less than our printing costs (~ $50 for various versions of Krause World Coins). Obviously they are printing a higher volume, but probably not hundreds of thousands, and they are companies that want to make a profit.
Also, it's worth emphasizing that the printer we used in 2018 printed the 800 page book for $11/book. The exact same printer bid this time as well, and because of the length they could only bid on doing it in two volumes, each 688 pages long, for $150/book. Even if you assume that costs have tripled since 2018, and that each volume of the new book will cost 3 times what our whole book did in 2018 (i.e. $33/volume for the new book), that still only gets you to $66/book. We just aren't seeing how they get to such a high price.