Dear Lifehacker, I am a postgraduate student working on a research project. And that means insane amounts of journal articles. My brain is incapable of processing any of the information unless I print them out to touch and highlight them. I have over one thousand research papers I need to read. What is the cheapest possible way to print these, ideally at around five cents per page?
I have looked at printing business but their high volume printing is only for one item 1000 times, not 1000 items one time. I do have a printer at home, but it is not capable of printing this volume cheaply or quickly. HALP! Thanks, Maddie
Printing image from Shutterstock
The good news is that black-and-white prints are much cheaper than colour. The bad news is that the standard industry price is around double your budget, at 10 cents per page.
This is what you can expect to pay at Office Works and Harvey Norman Print Shop. It's also what most universities charge their own students, as you're doubtlessly aware. With that said, some companies do offer personal quotes for larger jobs that can work out substantially cheaper.
Your first step is to contact a few printing services such as Snap with a detailed print request. Explain that you only require black-and-white text on standard, non-glossy paper. You can then compare quotes and go with whichever is cheapest.
Most printing services provide a choice of bound booklets, binders or loose sheets. To save money, go for the latter and invest in a hole puncher. (If you can wrangle some friends together to help you assemble your own binders, all the better.)
Printing costs per page will depend on how much you are printing, so it makes sense to print all the research papers in one go rather than as you need them. While the initial cost will be higher, you'll save more money in the long run.
If possible, you should also merge the papers into PDF files -- the less work the company has to do, the less it will charge in processing fees. With the aforementioned Snap, you can get 25,000 double-sided pages printed for $2000, which works out to around four cents per page.
Obviously, it's more cost-effective to use a facility you can physically pick up your prints from. Otherwise, you'll need to factor in posting and handling fees which can become quite high for huge tomes of paper. (Plus, picking them up in store means you'll get your research papers faster.)
If any readers have additional tips or recommendations to share, let Maddie know in the comments section below.
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