Custom book printing

Joey Young | Owner and publisher, Kansas Publishing Ventures, Hillsboro, Kansas | Circulation size: 7,500 weekly

What’s the idea and how is it useful to other newspapers?

Vintage Victoria Vol. II coverWe self-publish books for people all over the state, but we decided to take our connections and create our own book. We have done veterans books in two counties now that have generated a nice buzz with the community and generated some revenue.

The total cost depends on the quantity of books you order. But I will use an $8 per book including shipping example. The books sell for $34.95 each for the photo books and the veterans books sell for $39.95 each. Obviously you will make much more with a 2,000 book order rather than a 500 book order, which is our case because of the size of our market.

With the Marion Memories book, for example, we presold about 100 at $29.95 (a $5 discount per book.) The front-end sheet sold to advertisers for about $1,500 and the back two end sheets for $750 each panel. So up front we collected approximately $5,995 and our cost was $4,000. Selling the rest of the 500 books after publication netted approximately $10,000 (some books were sold through other retail outlets and they received a 20 to 30 percent discount for the books they sold.) The advertisers received some complimentary books.

This was done without any additional staff but we did hire a college student who had already worked as an intern for us to write the captions. A way to presell more books is to accept a $10 deposit per book with the balance due at publication. This encourages grandparents to buy books for all of the grandkids up front. The Toledo Blade in Ohio did a photo book in their market and netted roughly $300,000 on sales of 10,000 copies. They sold business profiles for four times more that what we sold ours for and also sold inside page business profiles.

People really like the books, and they make great conversation pieces.

We have a good track record of helping other newspapers publish as well. Other news organizations typically want the veterans or photo books. For a photo book, you just put out a “call to action” in your newspaper: We’re looking for photos from a certain era. Readers bring in photos, which creates a relationship between readers and the newspaper. You write captions and maybe write a couple historical stories. The books contain mostly photos though. People get really excited about helping create a history book. Typically, if people bring photos, they will buy a book. They feel like you are putting a spotlight on something.

What impact did your success have on your organization?

It makes a boatload of money, and people love them. Every time we personally do these, or we help another company do them it turns out well. Many veterans have made comments including, “No one has ever done something this complimentary of our service and sacrifice before.” And on the photo books, comments have included: “Where did you find all of these neat photos of our town? I had heard about the carnival that came to town back in the ’30s but had never seen any photos of it.”

What impact did your success have on your community?

It allows us to connect with the community differently. These aren't news stories but a hardcover book that will sit on a table and be looked at for years.

What resources were required to achieve your success?

This took about four people: project manger, editor, scanner, and a graphic designer.

If you use existing staff, they are doing it between other work, so do some presales you shouldn't have any investment really. The presales of the book pays for printing. This is stuff they can work on when waiting on something else. You don’t have to spend a bunch of money on staff.

How long did it take you from idea to implementation?

It kind of depends, but it takes about a year off and on. Generally, we recommend that it take nine to 12 months to do it. You can do this as quickly as you want, but we try to spread it out and spend some time on it.

How long did it take you from implementation to break even or success?

It takes about a year off and on to get this thing going, but it is worth the payoff.

Any lessons learned, tweaks or adjustments?

We recommend a photo book to start with, and then try creating some veterans books later.

Supplementary materials


Joey Young's presentation from the event.

Custom book printing supplement

A supplement produced to publicize Kansas Publishing Ventures' book-printing service.

Connie Gibbs

Book photo of Connie Gibbs, who conducts a training seminar for the project.

Our Nation Called, Harvey County Answered

Cover of a veterans photo book.

Trial by Fire

Cover a book produced by Kansas Publishing Ventures.

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Joey Young's photo
Joey Young is the owner and publisher of Kansas Publishing Ventures, a media company in south-central Kansas. Kansas Publishing Ventures publishes two weeklies, a shopper, and a glossy magazine. The news organization also operate a full marketing company that helps customers with custom print, books, websites, and other needed products.