How much to charge for book design

edward maddison's picture

I have been asked to provide a rough estimate for the design and production of a 40 page soft back book. The publication will be an architect's monograph to be sent to clients and potentially sold in select bookstores.

We are currently getting quotes from printers for between 2-10,000 copies, and I'm really just curious what others would (very roughly) charge for the design of a project of this kind.

Thank you, Ed

aluminum's picture

How long is a piece of string?

Linda Cunningham's picture

If the architect insists on being consulted about the design, probably five times as much as I would for any other client -- they can be a real pain to work with. :-(

pattyfab's picture

For an illustrated book I usually charge between $40 and $50 per page. That includes design, layouts (plus one round of revised, additional correx at $50/hour), typesetting. Does not include picture research, scanning, retouching art, or dealing with the printer.

So I'd say for a book that short about $2000. But be sure to make them understand it's only one round of layout changes.

mondoB's picture

Pattyfab, how much per page for an illustrated book published by a medium-level (not Ivy League) university press? Or, how much per page for a no-illustration book via the same nonprofit press? Your input here is invaluable!

muzzer's picture

mate don't provide a rough estimate! Give the bugger a quote with provisions for them to muck around being stupid making arbitraty changes so charge $ 150 hour or whatever for changes. Think about how long it will take tou to design up a grid, talk to printer,s deal with tthe clients shit and nake an hourly rate that you think will keep you happy. If you end up doing the job for less than yiou are happy with then you will hate it forever and they will take the piss.

My mate is a painter, he said they alway quoted a job buy thinnkng of a figure, doulbe it and add 30 percent!


edward maddison's picture

thanks very much for all your help. I have a good relationship with the architect in charge of the project, however there is the terrible possibility of it going to committee, so i will be allowing for acres of revisions in my quote.

We really want the job, as it may well lead to further work, inevitably it's a delicate balancing act; both wanting to give the appearance of a serious outfit and at the same time producing a competitive quote.

Thanks again you have all been very helpful.


aluminum's picture

"however there is the terrible possibility of it going to committee"

A committee of architects? Are you SURE you want this gig? ;o)

I'd just give them an hourly rate with a giant 'total cost will depend on the amount of revisions we want to make in the process'

Linda Cunningham's picture

"A committee of architects" starts at $50/hour/architect, plus $5,000 up front.


hrant's picture

Committee pricing should be on an exponential scale.
If one person can design something in one day, two people can design it in two days.


eriks's picture

If one person can design something in one day, two people can design it in two days.

That’s linear, not exponential. With architects, it’d better be exponential. Like if one architects needs one revision, two architects need four revisions.

v-six's picture

Between 2-10,000 copies...

If the total count of printed copies will be low, and your client is concerned with price over perfection, see if you can find a good digital printer. Lower quality, but much cheaper for low runs..

I do prepress for a digital press, and with the right attention, it's acceptable stuff. Obviously, it's not going to rival offset anytime in the near future, but then again, ask for a large press to print 150 copies of something and they make look at you sideways!

Just food for thought. Comments/criticism welcome.

AzizMostafa's picture

> If one person can design something in one day, two people can design it in two days.

If 1 person can design something in 1 day, 2 people can design it in half day.

If 1 person can design something in 1 day, 2 people can design it in 2 hours.

aluminum's picture


If 1 person can design something in 1 day, a committee of 6 can design it in 14 months.

pattyfab's picture

John - for a university press I'd probably charge the lower end of my scale - i.e. about $40/page (with the caveats above) for an illustrated book. For a non-illustrated book either around $20-25/page all in - plus extra for aa's.

mondoB's picture

thanks your work...designing a coffee-table book on a fresco cycle in northern Italy by a peer of Veronese who has literally never been studied in color before...for a university press, so your input is quite useful!

LisaJacksonDesign's picture

I think $2000 is good

will powers's picture

Ummm . . . let's clarify something about the number of copies to be printed.

When you typed "between 2-10,000 copies", did you mean "between two copies and ten thousand copies"? Or did you mean "between two thousand copies and ten thousand copies"? If it is the latter, digital printing is probably out of the question. Digital printing, in the right shop, is getting very good. But there are not enough "right shops" around yet.

Not that this has much reflection on the basic design fee. But it may have some bearing on your fee for dealing with the printer, who will probably need to show you several sheets and talk about the cost variables among them.

patty's price structure is a good place to start thinking about this. But, I, too, worry about what kind of swamp you may be getting into here. I do not mean to bash anyone, but very often clients who are not accustomed to publishing book-like things don't really understand all that this means. They very often need close attention and forthright direction so they may do their jobs with as little pain all around.

Sye's picture

@pattyfab - may i ask what you (or anyone else) would change for a non-illustrated book? So basically just typesetting?

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