Amazon adds cut-price color printing choice for KDP Print books

Amazon is introducing a new color printing option for KDP print books which can almost halve the cost of color printing when compared with premium color. The cut-price choice could open up a new market for indie authors looking to offer color print books at a more economical price to readers.

You can now choose between two color printing options to publish new paperbacks — premium color and a new, lower-priced color option — standard color.

The standard color option is available for the Amazon.com marketplace, the UK, Canada (through Amazon.com enrolment), Spain, Italy, France and Germany. It is not yet available in Australia or Japan, although premium color is available there.

The choice is now between standard or premium color ink on white paper when setting up paperbacks.

Amazon gives an example of a 120-page paperback with the costings for the two options:

Standard color:

Fixed cost: $0.85

Minimum page count: 72

Per-page cost: $0.036

Printing cost (Fixed cost + (page count * page cost): $5.17


Premium color:

Fixed cost: $0.85

Minimum page count: 24

Per-page cost $0.070

Printing cost (Fixed cost + (page count * page cost): $9.25


Printing differences between standard and premium color ink

To lower printing costs, standard color paperbacks are printed on lighter paper, which Amazon says is the same as used for its black-and-white paperbacks, using inkjet printers that are more efficient than the toner-based printers that are used for premium color paperbacks.

The paper weight used for standard color is 55# (90gsm) while 60# (100gsm) is used for premium color. Both print options offer 435 pixels per inch resolution.

The picture at the top of this article shows a comparison between standard color and premium color. There are obviously differences in definition and saturation but the standard color choice will be perfectly fine for many uses and offers the great benefit of being able to offer an affordable price to readers.

The minimum page count on standard color is 72 pages compared with just 24 pages for premium color. Royalty rates for the two choices are both the same at 60% and all the usual options are available such as proof copies, author copies, and Expanded Distribution.

Standard and premium color both have the same cover and interior sizing and formatting requirements and offer the same range of trim sizes from 4 ins x 6 ins to 8.5 ins x 11 ins, but standard color is not available for A4 paper size (8.27 ins x 11.69 ins).

Amazon says:

  • Standard color is ideal for books with a high page count, and interiors with fewer images, where a balance between cost and quality is needed. Paperbacks printed in standard color will have a matte finish and will have differences in sharpness and richness of color from those printed in premium color.
  • Premium color is ideal for image-heavy color interiors, such as children’s books, cookbooks, or photography books, where image sharpness and clarity is pivotal.

Differences in detail page listings

Amazon says you and your customers will not be able to distinguish between the detail pages for books set up in standard and premium color ink. For the best customer experience, the company suggests unpublishing one version instead of creating two editions.

If your book is not yet published, you can change the ink type by updating the interior and paper type within the print options. If your book is already published, the interior and paper type is locked. To update your interior and paper type, you can unpublish and then republish your book with a new ISBN.


You can find out more about KDP Print color ink options on the Amazon website.


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