Color Printing vs. Black and White Printing… What is the Difference?

When you choose to self-publish a book, you must decide you want the interior of your book printed in color or black and white. This decision impacts the look of your book as well as the price. When considering your options, it is important to understand the process as well as the benefits of each choice.

Colored Printing

Colored printing is typically used for smaller manuscripts averaging 30 to 50 pages. These are usually books geared towards children. Because illustrations tell half of the story in a picture book, color is extremely important in children’s books. It captures the imagination and brings the story to life.

Black and White Printing

Black and white printing is typically used for longer manuscripts. This not mean that you will have a black and white cover. It simply means that the interior pages of your book will be printed in black and white. This option is more cost-effective for longer manuscripts because of production cost and market price.

How is this different from traditional publishing?

In traditional publishing, the black and white pages of a manuscript are printed on one press while the colored pages are printed on another. After all of the pages are printed, the manuscript is assembled. Print on demand (POD) publishing works a bit differently. Each page is printed individually on the same press. This means that just some spot of color will require your manuscript to be printed on the colored press. This immediately increases the cost of your book because the colored press is more expensive to maintain and operate. It requires a more skilled operator and heavier, more expensive paper.

What options do authors of long manuscripts have?

As an author of a long manuscript, you need to not only consider the production cost of your book but also the market price. Long manuscripts that are published in color have a higher market price because of the production cost. This in turn typically results in poor sales because readers are unwilling to buy a book that is overpriced compared to other books of similar lengths.

This does not mean that you have to publish a dull book. If you want to include images in your longer length manuscript, you can use a grayscale. Your manuscript will still be printed on the black and white printer, but your colored images will be converted to black and white. This is an option that is frequently and successfully used by POD authors.

If you are passionate about your book being published in color, it is an option. Just be prepared for higher costs, and plan for a higher market price. One of the perks of self-publishing is that you are in control of your book. You decide how it will look, so make the choice that is best for you and your readers.

Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

One thought on “Color Printing vs. Black and White Printing… What is the Difference?

  1. I agree that colored and black and white printing is a matter of choice by the author. In fact, authors would know which of these color schemes would provide more impact to what their book wants to convey to their readers. But of course, each has their own pros and cons. It is a matter still of knowing which works best.

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