Spring is here! For students and teachers, this is a busy time of year; with the school year approaching a crescendo, spring sports kicking into high gear, and of course, the class yearbook! This year, as you finalize your school’s yearbook, consider the smarter ways to print that yearbook.
How do I print a Yearbook?
Most printing today is done from a PDF file. For either offset or digital printing, the PDF is used to create the printed design and then is transferred to the page before binding. Yearbook printing is generally done through digital print-on-demand methods, which rely heavily on a well formatted PDF to print the materials to the page.
If you’ve handled yearbook creation and ordering for your school in the past, there’s a good chance you’ve used an all inclusive service like Jostens or Lifetouch. These services usually employ an online template or designer. You drop your images and text into the template and send it off. A few months later, boxes of printed yearbooks arrive.
The templated method is good for simplifying your work, but also quite restrictive. What if the template doesn’t allow you to layout a page the way you’d like? Or if the text boxes don’t include the font you want to use?
What are your alternatives?
The most popular tool for doing complex page layout is InDesign. While InDesign and similar tools can be challenging to learn, once you know how to use them, the versatility is unparalleled. And for a yearbook, getting a fully customized layout can be vital to giving your students the unique look and feel they expect.
And if you’re thinking using design software to layout your yearbook might be the way to go, there’s an added benefit: you could save a lot of money on the printing.
How Much Does it Cost to Print a Yearbook?
If you use a service to manage the design and delivery of yearbooks, the per book cost can easily approach $80 to $100. Or you could use Lulu and get yearbooks for $25 per book. Seriously.
I wrote a piece a few months ago making the argument that using the common yearbook services is a mistake. The argument rests on two points:
- You want to control the design of your yearbook
- You want to save money
If you fit both of those criteria, there is no reason to use a yearbook service. You can get the same high-quality print orders from Lulu, often with more paper options, at very affordable prices. You’ll be completely in control—of the design and the yearbook costs your school pays.
Self-publishers, by the very nature of their position in the industry, specialize in offering a range of easily customized print-on-demand products.
Elementary School Yearbooks
When I was twelve, a yearbook was a long way from the top of my mind. But for parents, these books are a piece of living history. And decades later you’ll have the opportunity to look back at rich memories.
Printing technology offers so many way to make elementary school yearbooks better. First, creating a saddle stitched book (the most common design for elementary schools) is incredibly affordable. We’re talking about yearbook prices under $10 for schools with smaller classes.
Best of all, thanks to print-on-demand, so long as the school retains the files the yearbook can be reordered for years to come.
Middle School Yearbooks
Just like with elementary school yearbooks, middle schools can use print-on-demand to cut costs and make sure the yearbooks are available for years to come. Plus, with print-on-demand you only have to wait a few weeks at most to get the printed yearbooks in hand. There will be plenty of time to get spring sports and events into the yearbook and still have them ordered before school breaks for the summer.
High School Yearbook
This is it. The yearbooks that everyone remembers. The ones we cherish for years and years. High school yearbooks are often the ones that cost the most to produce too. Using a yearbook service, the cost can reach well over $50 and even approach $100 for the hardcover, glossy paged yearbooks.
But there’s no reason it has to cost that much. Again, print-on-demand services offer printing for as low as $25 per book! That’s for the hardcover, high-quality printing in rich full color you want.
That’s the common thread that I think deserves repeating: print-on-demand providers can print and ship your yearbooks for a fraction of the cost traditional services charge. Unless you’re using Josten’s yearbook creation software and templates, there is absolutely no reason to pay their print and fulfillment costs.
Not when you can get the same quality at a fraction of the cost.
There’s another point that stands out here. The little details. Lulu prints orders in three to five business days, and with most domestic shipping options you’ll get the order in less than five additional days. Even if you estimate on the conservative side and allow three full weeks for fulfillment, that means you can order yearbooks in May and get them well before the end of the school year.
That gives ample time to get pictures from Prom in the yearbook. Or other spring sports or events.
Here’s an even crazier scenario: Imagine finishing the yearbook after graduation? You could get those incredible graduation pictures in there and the yearbooks can ship direct to the student’s (parent’s probably) home address!
Okay, maybe that scenario isn’t ideal since it would make it tough for students to scamper around getting their friends to sign their yearbooks. But you get the point.
You’re in Control
That’s what Lulu is all about. Giving creators the creative control. So, at the risk of coming off like a broken record, I’ll end by saying this one more time: If you create your own yearbook files, print-on-demand has the potential to be a huge money saver for your school.