I wonder what are the actual costs of translating a manuscript of a textbook as given by the authors into a final publication (for web or print). I.e., ignoring the costs of marketing the textbook, and printing the textbook, and serving content via web.

I am mostly interested in the fields of computer science and maths, English-speaking venues, and the United States, but I am curious about other fields, languages, and countries as well. I am looking for referenced numbers, not guesses.

Given the number of downvotes and close votes from people who seem to think it's impossible, here is an example

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    This is not a meaningful question. Manuscripts vary in quality from being near-production-ready to being completely unsalvageable, and in between, one might span a couple of orders of magnitude of cost.
    – 410 gone
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 14:53
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    I doubt that anyone has tracked this sell enough to compile meaningful statistics. Try approaching publishers yourself, tell them you're doing an industry survey paper, promise them a copy of the results, and ask them if they have this data or would be willing to estimate or gather it for you... Then write that paper; it might even be publishable somewhere if you do it right.
    – keshlam
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 17:26
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    @keshlam Maybe some transparent publisher would have compiled and released some data? (example) Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 17:34
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    @EnergyNumbers basic copy editing costs about 4 cents a word while technical writting usually costs 1 dollar a word. I would be surprised if there could be an ORDERS of magnitude difference in costs per word.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 18:57
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    This is much too broad. A freshman calc textbook could require the publisher to create hundreds of figures. A graduate text might be provided as LaTeX source and require zero work.
    – user1482
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


The costs are going to depend on three factors: (1) how long the book is, (2) how well written the book is, and (3) how much layout work the publisher does.

For example, in Math, the publisher might provide a LaTeX template and expect you to hand tweak underfull and overfull lines, float placement, and hypenation. In other fields it is more typical to give the publisher plain text with minimal markup.

The Editorial Freelancers Association publishes recommended editing fees. A typical book might have a round of "line editing" at 4 cents per word, a round of layout at 4 cents per word, and a round of basic copy editing at 2 cents per word.

If the book is poorly written, two rounds of line editing might be needed. If there is automated layout, the layout costs could be saved. There is also the cost of creating an index at 2 cents a word, which depends on who makes the index.

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