Wondering what’s the fastest way to print a book? The fastest way to print high-quality books is with print-on-demand.
Quickly upload your files on Lulu, create your book, order it, and get back to doing the things you love. With free express book creation online and international shipping with a global network of printers to print and bind your custom book Lulu is simple and fast. No hidden fees, more than 3,000 format options, binding types, and book layouts make Lulu the best custom book printing service. Books are printed on-demand and ship within 3-5 business days.
Not so long ago, printing books happened in massive, expensive batches, paid for and owned by a publisher. Today, with print-on-demand, you can finish making a book and have as many copies as you need in your hands by the end of the week.
What You’ll Learn About Fast Book Printing:
- How fast can books be printed?
- How to plan your book for printing
- How to prepare your book’s files for printing
- How to have your custom book printed (Spoiler: Just order! No minimums; you can have 1 or 1,000+ copies printed and shipped.)
Defining Fast Book Printing
What does fast or express book printing even mean? Is fast printing next day or next week?
There’s no single formula, but here’s a rough outline of what it looks like (and how long it takes) when you order a book on Lulu. Note that all days are measured in business (Monday-Friday) days:
|Books Ordered||Days to Print (Paperback)||Days to Print (Hardcover)||Days to Ship||Total Days in Transit|
|1||2||3||3||5 / 6|
|100||3||5||3||6 / 8|
|1,000||5||7||3||8 / 10|
Big disclaimer: I am estimating our printing and shipping times to give you a relative sense of timing. Based on your book’s binding, ink, and paper options, the printing can take a single business day or as many as three days.
For example, a perfect bound book is a paperback and most of the printing process is automated. So those books usually print faster. But hardcover book printing requires more hands-on work, and if you’ve got a dust jacket and embossed text on the linen cover, that’s three additional elements right there that have to be added to your book!
There’s another factor that isn’t actually printing but is closely related to what we mean when we’re searching for express book printing: shipping times. Your book could get printed the moment the order hits the printers and be ready to go later that day. From there, numerous factors including the distance between you and the printer and weather delays can impact transit time.
Why Fast Print-On-Demand Services Matters For Your Book
Technology brought creators a variety of new tools in the last few years. We can create things without long lead times and expensive buy-in from traditional publishers. This is not just books—music and games and shirts and mugs and the list goes on. On-demand, custom products are key to creator success.
Print-on-demand carefully balances speed and affordability. Books can be printed and arrive at their location in days or weeks instead of months. Historically, the most efficient way to print books is called offset printing. This process applies “the inked image [to] a plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface.” Huge rolls of paper are run along the plate, printing the individual pages. This printing method can create a thousand copies of your book in short order.
An offset print run might cost you less per book than print-on-demand, but you’ll need to have the money to buy all of those thousands of books at once. And space to store them. And the means to ship them once you sell a copy.
Print-on-demand offers affordable pricing alongside speed and efficiency—all factors key to a successful creator or author business. Express book printing may cost more to print each book, but you won’t be sharing as much of your revenue with publishers, you’ll avoid storing (and paying for) thousands of books upfront, and you’ll have the control to make changes to your book as needed.
Print-On-Demand Services: The Fastest Book-Making Option
Digital print-on-demand prints each page individually (though still on massive rolls), allowing you to print a single copy at a time. The process is more expensive per book but allows you to sell books without storing thousands of copies. And without print-on-demand, short-run orders of a few hundred books would be prohibitively expensive for an offset printer.
Another major benefit of print-on-demand books is the fast turnaround time. You can upload your book files today and have a book in your hands within a week. For entrepreneurs who need to create and promote quickly, fast turnarounds make it easier for you to be nimble and meet your fan’s needs.
Modern POD services offer a complete, white-labeled printing option that handles all of the fulfillment processes. You can be a published author and sell books without having to store and mail a single copy.
Print-on-demand companies are bringing custom book printing services to creators at any length and any stage in their journey.
Uploading & Making Your Book On Lulu
To achieve the fastest book printing possible, use a complete PDF file for your book’s interior and another PDF for the cover. Be sure you’ve edited and designed your book file completely before you even think about printing. The final product will reflect the files you provide.
However, print-on-demand makes it ridiculously easy to print a single copy as a proof. If you see a typo or something that needs to be edited, you can quickly make changes and order another copy!
The best way to guarantee speedy book delivery is to have everything ready to go in advance. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need to do before you can use Lulu’s print-on-demand service for express book printing:
- Finish the book – That means you’ve written all the content, including the front and back matter.
- Lay out the content – This includes adding images, checking margins, and styling your content. This guide breaks down the page layout for your book into manageable pieces.
- Create your PDF – Once the content is final and the pages are designed, you must export a PDF at the correct trim size for your printer.
- Design your cover – Your cover must be a separate PDF, designed to match the size of your book.
Some publishing platforms may have another step or simplify one of these steps. Lulu’s free cover creator allows you to design your cover while publishing your book, rather than designing it ahead of time (or paying someone else to design it for you). But the principle requirements for print-on-demand will always put the design of your book on you.
Uploading And Printing Your Book
Why Lulu’s Print-On-Demand Service Is Right For Your Books
If you’re here and you’re thinking about Lulu, this is what you need to know:
- Lulu’s print network is global, providing fast international book printing and shipping to more than 150 countries.
- Creating your book just to print (and not for retail sale) can be done in minutes with a streamlined upload process.
- No other print-on-demand provider includes as many features and options as Lulu, giving you access to retail sales, ecommerce plugins, and bulk pricing.
- Lulu’s services are completely free to use. You only pay for the printing and shipping.
Please Order A Printed Proof Copy
Please, plan as best you can to allow for a printed proof copy before you order 100 books for a convention or 50 books for your course. There’s always something that could be tweaked—from the color tones on your cover to the position of your page numbers. Or maybe you spot just one more typo you can clean up.
Just order a proof. The final product will be better for that last review and (like I’ve been saying) we do print and ship books pretty darn fast. Because you can take advantage of express book printing, you should always take the (little bit of) extra time to get a test copy and review it thoroughly before making it available for sale or ordering a larger quantity.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.