Magazines Register

Goldilocks and the “Just Right” Print Run

You’ve created a top-notch magazine. It’s out in the world and enjoying some success, but you haven’t quite cracked the print-run code. Whether you’re consistently coming up short or buried under extraneous copies, the question remains the same: How many magazine copies should you print?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, which leaves publishers with two options. You could take the Goldilocks approach and continue experimenting with run size until you happen upon what is “just right” for your magazine, or you can assess the market and gather the right data to make an educated estimate.

Gathering data and assessing demand

Gathering the relevant subscription and distribution data is your first step toward a right-sized print run.

  • How many subscribers do you have? Print one magazine for each subscriber.
  • How many retailers are committed to stocking your magazine? If ten stores sell your magazine, print enough for each to have a few on the shelves and a few at the ready.
  • How many copies did your previous issues sell? Did your magazine sell out at one store? Print a few extra copies. Were you left with excess stock at the end of the month? Bring down your print run to avoid waste.

Once you’ve gathered the appropriate data, you can use it to find a ballpark figure for how many magazines you should print. Remember, you’re aiming for your Goldilocks number without all the extra work. A just-right run creates enough copies to meet demand without shelves stacked with last month’s, or last year’s, leftovers.

Right sizing your run

Your estimated need will fall within the parameters of either a short or long print run. A short run prints between 500 and 2,000 copies. A long run is anything over the 2,000 mark. These are general rules, and the distinctions may vary depending on the length of your magazine, its color and image content, and print turnaround time.

There are pros and cons to each option. A short print run is more flexible, affordable, and suitable for marketing materials, self-published magazines, and independent presses. With a short run, there is no minimum. Publishers may print 15 copies or 1,500.

It’s also easy to make changes with a shorter run. Imagine your first print run is 500 copies, and you sell almost all of them before you notice a spelling error in an author’s name. With a short run, you can make small changes and print new copies. Had you printed over 2,000 copies, you would be left with 1,500 obsolete magazines.

The benefit of a long print run is economy of scale. The more copies you print, the cheaper it is to produce each copy. This is the right choice for more prominent magazines or those building a significant following with increasing distribution and demand.

Still running hot or cold on the subject of print runs? Look to the experts for guidance in finding your Goldilocks number.

Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.

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