Pile of books with differing quality print

Photo by Mahendra Kumar on Unsplash

Is the medium always the message? Publishing a book is not just about graphic design. A book is so much more than the visuals – it is also about touch.

Print remains the most universal and popular format for publishing a book. Despite the rise of audiobooks and ebooks there are more books printed each year in the history of planet Earth. And that’s where paper comes in.

Paper is a major variable in determining the print price of any author’s book. Depending on the paper type, it can add as much as 100% to the print price (regardless of whether it’s full-colour printing or just black). As dealt with in a previous book publishing blog, choice of production quality (including the paper) can destroy the economic viability of any project.

If you are doing a business book or a work of fiction, we always recommend using a budget paper stock so there is enough profit margin, i.e. retail price minus cost of production.

If it is an art book or poetry, then you can consider high quality paper. As Marshal McLuhn famously said “the medium is the message? In book publishing this might mean that a book is considered in its totality – the words, illustrations, the binding, and the paper.

In my mind, the jury is still out on McLuhan. Is what he said true in every situation? My emerging view is for fiction and many non-fiction genres (where the content and written word has primacy) the medium is not the message. Print cheap and profit.