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Although the prepress costs have fallen dramatically in the last decade or so, four-color process book printing is still expensive from any book printer. Printing a full-color 16-page signature in a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 book will cost you about $1,000 for film and proofs and another $1,000 or so for the plates and printing.
If you're only printing 500 books, that's a unit cost of $4 per book just for the 16-page color signature. Using a standard markup of five or six times the production cost to find the retail price, you would have to add an additional $24 per book to make the numbers work out profitably.