We threw the exact same booklet printing order in 18 online print shop carts and got mind-blowing price differences. While both the print shop with the lowest price and the one with the highest price both advertised “high quality booklet printing” in their SEO page title, their cart prices varied by 65%!
Our booklet order and the assumptions we made
For this little study, we made a few assumptions and applied a few basic rules to keep the comparison fair and consistent.
We did not question the actual quality of the finished product. In other words, we gave the benefit of the doubt to the print shop, assuming that the paper quality was relatively consistent and their printer capable of producing crisp, consistent prints.
We assumed that creasing would be used to prevent cracking on the folds, and that the spreads would meet at the fold. We took for granted that each shop would produce booklets that were free of errors.
Finally, we assumed that you have a print ready file that does not require artwork support or evaluation by the print shop.
Sadly, while we did see some product reviews for one very high priced print shop that complained of slanted and even upside-down pages (yikes!), that shop was not included in the final comparison.
To compare prices, you need to start with comparable products.
For that, we selected a fairly common booklet printing project. The specs are listed here for you to do your own comparisons.
Our order is for 100 full colour (4/4), 32 page saddle stitched booklets in letter size.
The paper is a classy 100lb gloss text, and we chose to use the same paper for the cover. The 32 pages include the cover, which is also printed on both sides.
We compared only regular prices (no sales) in Canadian dollars and noted the regular production speed.
The Online Print Shops: Who was in and who was out
A large number of online print shops require shoppers to request a quote in order to see their pricing. We dumped those ones. Frankly, given the results we found from the braver ones, it is unlikely that better deals are hidden behind those quote forms.
Since it is the sites who post their prices that make shopping easy, we support them.
All of the print shops in our comparison are located in Canada and provide pricing in Canadian dollars.
Online print shops that did not offer an exact match of our product specs was excluded. Some shops had great pricing, but no match to the paper choice, binding option, or number of pages. Matching paper is especially important, as you can easily overpay if you are not comparing apples to apples.
Obviously, each print shop had to offer saddle stitch (staple) binding. There are other forms – perfect, plastic coil, wire coil, for example – but for simplicity we chose saddle stitch.
Each of the print shops we compared is easily found online. There is 18 of them from several provinces. All of them deliver to addresses across Canada.
Obviously, our study is not exhaustive. You will find many more across the country. It is, however, representative and telling.
Comparison of Booklet Printing Prices in Canada
- Print Shop 18 charges $794.83 MORE for 100 booklets on the same paper and specs as Printer 1
- The fastest production time for regular price is 4 days. The slowest is 12-15.
- Print Shop 2 offers rush service and will complete the booklet order in 3 days for $470.50, an extra $40. Print Shop 17 also offers 3-4 day rush service for $2720.62, an extra $1511.45
- You could do 2 consecutive orders (200 total booklets) with Print Shop 4 and get both orders before you got the first one from Print Shop 17. You would also pay less.
- Print Shop 1 charges the least, but the finished booklets are not full size. They trim them to a slightly smaller size than the artwork.
- Some of the print shops did not provide a production speed (N/A on the graphic).
- The grey background represents the median values. The median price is $729.50. The average price is slightly higher at $735.93.
- Print Shop 18 advertises that the print is on 200M gloss paper. “200M” looks heavier, but is equivalent to 100lb.
The Lows and the Highs
We did not find any print shops in Canada offering 100 32-page letter size booklets in 100lb gloss text for less than what Print Shop 1 charges.
Having said that, it is notable that Print Shop 1’s practice of trimming to less than the advertised size would lead me to lean to Print Shop 2 as the better deal. For less than $1 more you get exactly what you expect.
The price offered by print shops 1 and 2 are low enough that it is unlikely that the request for quote sites will beat them. Frankly, it is difficult to see how they can be making much profit at those prices.
High prices, slow service
Higher prices are often warranted by faster delivery times. However, of these print shops, the faster production times are mostly among the less expensive orders. In fact, the second highest priced print shop (17), offers the longest production time.
Remember, Print Shops 17 and 18 are offering EXACTLY the same order as Print Shops 1 and 2. There is no evidence that the final product would warrant a price nearly 3 times higher.
How to find the best prices for your booklet order
Regardless of the number of pages for your saddle stitch booklet project, or the paper type you will choose, you can use this information to guide your decision.
- Use the same booklet specs we used to see where the print shop prices fit on the scale.
- Change the specs to match your booklet artwork and compare prices.
- Make sure that every detail matches; otherwise, your comparison will not be fair and you may pay more or wait unnecessarily for your order.
- Expect to pay more for faster service. If you are in a hurry to get your job done, look for the best price that fits your schedule.
Contact us with your questions. We will be happy to help you do a fair comparison. We will NOT disclose the names of the Print Shops used in this study. Every effort has been made to accurately report out findings.
Layout your saddle stitch booklet in Adobe Indesign for a quality print ready booklet file.