From leftover books to missed deadline fees, the yearbook is costing schools.

It’s astonishing that yearbook costs are eating into school budgets. Especially when schools across America are facing a massive budget crisis. Almost two-thirds of states have budgets below 2008 levels, and one system, Chicago Public Schools, found themselves with an alarming $1 billion dollar deficit in 2013 alone.

Why are yearbook costs hurting schools?

It's rather simple: traditional publishers require schools to commit to a set number of yearbooks at the beginning of the year before they are sold to parents. If the school doesn't sell all of the books, guess who's left with the tab for those leftover yearbook costs? The school.


On-demand printing eliminates school yearbook costs.

The commitment based model surely benefits the publisher, since they get to lock in revenue, but it's an unnecessary burden for public schools in the age of on-demand printing.

Historically, for a school to get competitive yearbook prices, they were required to commit to a set number upfront. That mostly had to do with the inefficiencies and expensive set up costs related to offset printing.

Today’s printing technologies allow publishers to produce beautiful and affordably priced books, one at a time. There is no need for schools to place orders in advance. They can simply purchase the exact number of yearbooks they need a few weeks before the end of the school year, or even better, have parents purchase the books directly.

Yearbook costs are hidden.

Sadly, many school principals and administrators don't realize they are losing money. The impact from leftover yearbook costs is often masked by the revenue generated through fundraising efforts and yearbook ads.

For example, a school that raises $3,000 from a yearbook fundraiser, but ends up with 100 leftover copies of a $30 book, is perceived as "breaking even”. The loss comes when the school sends their fundraising check to the publisher to cover the cost for those yearbook leftovers.

Imagine if the school doesn't have to send the $3,000 to their publisher for those 100 unsold books. How could they use that money instead?


Dirty Little Secret

Farhad Manjoo wrote an engaging piece for Slate about the yearbook industry’s “dirty little secret”. Manjoo interviewed George Washington High School's yearbook advisor, Ryan Novack, who revealed that his school's yearbook had left them with a massive $50,000 debt. When the head of GW's sports hall of fame was asked what $50,000 would do for the High School's football program, he said, "It would fund the entire football team for 5 years."

This is one example of how a school can benefit from eliminating the costs associated with leftover books.

Calculating Your Yearbook Costs.

So how do you calculate your true yearbook costs? You’ll need 3 pieces of data to make the calculation:

  • Number of leftover books
  • Cost per book from the publisher
  • Additional fees: shipping, missed deadlines and proof costs

Enter your data into our easy to use online calculator to help you see your true costs and show your potential savings.