How Long Does it Take to Print a Magazine?

Stack of magazines, mostly perfect bound books

Last updated on May 23rd, 2023 at 03:04 pm

Magazines can be pretty quick to print. But the answer to how long does it take to print a magazine depends on four factors. The first two are how many copies you need printed and how quickly you need them. The next factor is the type of printing and binding equipment used. We also take into account your budget for the project.

Magazine printing (and binding) can be done in as little as 24 hours as long as you use same-day printing and next-day shipping. If you’re not in a rush, you can save money by giving the printer six to 10 business days (including shipping) to complete your magazine print job.

Check out Printivity’s Magazine Printing product page for fast, cheap online magazine printing on digital/offset presses. Printivity allows you to choose the exact date you want to receive your job through the Simply Ship™ quoter tool in the shopping cart. We also offer same-day printing service through our Rush Critical™ service.

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How to print a magazine

There are several ways to print a magazine. The two most common are digital printing and offset printing. With offset printing, an etched plate must be made for every image to be printed. The ink adheres to the plate, with the different colors being applied to the appropriate areas. The ink is then transferred to the paper using an offset printing press.

Digital printing does not use plates to transfer the ink. Instead, the image is drawn using very small dots. Electrostatic rollers (called “drums”) then apply toner onto the paper. The toner is then fused onto the paper using a high-heat process.

Digital printing offers several advantages over offset. First, it’s much easier to change the prints with digital. Offset requires a different plate for every image, which makes editing an image time-consuming. Digital makes it very quick to edit and print both images. Digital is faster to set up than offset, and the prints come out dry, which speeds up the finishing process.

Offset printing requires considerably more setup time and material than digital, yet the ink and each sheet of paper cost less than digital printing.  Even so, with the time required to etch the plates and set up the job, offset printing only makes economic sense with high-volume magazine print jobs.

How long does it take to print a magazine?

Another factor that affects the time it takes to print a magazine is the print/binding volume. Print/bind volume affects the kind of printing press and bindery equipment the job gets put onto. With magazine printing, a job of around 1500 to 2000 copies is considered a short-run project and will run on a digital press and short-run bindery machines. You can expect faster turnaround times with short-run magazine projects because the equipment takes less time to set up. Also, the shops running digital presses tend to be oriented around a high frequency of jobs.

Once you get above 1500 to 2000 copies, the job will be run on offset presses and higher volume bindery machines. You can expect slower turnaround times with magazine projects for the reasons opposite of those listed for digital printing. However, you can also expect lower printing costs when printing your magazines using offset presses.

Because of the higher costs, offset printing usually has minimum quantity requirements and is recommended for large run orders. In contrast, digital printing can be used for quantities from one to several thousand. At Printivity, we only use digital printing in order to keep our costs low and give our customers more flexibility with their print projects.

In certain rush conditions, some magazine producers will still opt for digital presses for longer magazine jobs because the turnaround times are faster. To speed up a rush magazine job, print companies will often run it on several different digital printers because the setup time is minimal. Running a job on multiple offset printers would require making a separate plate of the same image for each printer, which increases setup times and printing costs. When print speed is more important than cost for a magazine project, digital printing is the better choice.

The most important factor in how long it takes to print a magazine

Printing and binding equipment aside, the biggest factor in printing speed is the print company itself. Most full-service printing companies have the same equipment. Yet, that doesn’t mean they all have reliable quick-turnaround capabilities. Quick turnaround when printing magazines requires special systems, processes, and vendors to do it consistently. Just because a printing company charges a rush turnaround fee does not mean they are structured to handle high volumes of quick-turnaround magazine printing projects.

If you have to print a quick turnaround project, make sure your printing company handles a lot of these projects. That way, you know they have the experience and processes in place to get your rush magazine print job when you need it. At Printivity, we have the experience and expertise to handle quick turnarounds without compromising quality.

Hopefully, I’ve been able to answer your question, “How long does it take to print a magazine?” with the factors I’ve outlined in this article. If you have any questions, contact our Customer Service Representatives at 1-877-649-5463. And don’t forget to check out Printivity’s magazine printing product page for fast, cheap online magazine printing on digital presses. 


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