Manuscript printing

My small desktop printer will struggle to handle my 125,000 word novel, and I’m not ready yet to invest in an expensive laser printer. Can anyone recommend either: a) a printing service that doesn’t charge 10p a page like a regular copy shop or b) a decent workhorse laser printer for a mac that won’t break the bank.


I can’t make any suggestions, but I’m also interested in any suggestions for [b]. I get through black inkjet cartridges at a real clip, and so rarely print colour anyway that a cheap, good laser printer would probably be a much better everyday printer for me. I could just pull the inkjet out for the occasional job.

Interesting reading on the comparitive expense of printer ink: … ill-racket … 212444.php

(Probably worth mentioning that John and I are both in the UK, by the way, so some US models may not be available or priced differently over here…)

I’ve got a Brother 3020L (I think it is), a cheap (£100ish) laser printer that I’ve never had any problems with… cue printer meltdown…

Mind you, I’ve never printed out 125,000 words with it. 120 page scripts have been fine though.

Im not speaking authoritatively here, just off the top of my head(thats probably why), but there are loads of deals out there, that offer ownbranded cartridges, dirt cheap, if bought in bulk i.e.4s/5s/6s/7s etc. I cant see any problems if youre only using black. Colour quality could be a bit iffy, but, a lot of these suppliers guarantee there stuff, and claim to supply big organisations and schools.


The problem with buying in bulk is that inkjet ink is only good to be stored for about a year, after which time it starts to clog and dry out and stuff. Plus, there’s just the principle of the thing; I strongly object to paying that much for so little!

Do you mean the HL-2030? Certainly a good price…

Thanks, everyone. The trouble with printer we have is that it uses four colours (two different types of black cartridge, and it just won’t print unless you have all four colours - even if you’re only printing black.

What about a printing service - like a company who could run off an Ms.?

:open_mouth: Madness!

That’s a good point - is there a UK equivalent to Kinko’s? I know most of my Stateside friends use them for basic stuff like that.

I have been using a Brother HL5040 Laser printer for the past four years. Never a problem, excellent output. Primary use for the first two years was printing off proof sheets for an author (who doesn’t have a computer). I think I paid $300 for it new, and newer models would be even less.

A couple of years ago I bought a Brother HL-2040 for ~$60 (with rebate) and it’s still going strong. It’s hooked up to an Airport Express and prints Mac, Win XP, and Linux files just fine.

Not sure if they still make it, but I’m sure they have similar models. I also have another earlier Brother b&w laser printer, the HL-1435, and it, too, is still printing daily. I’d recommend searching around for a deal somewhere.

We are using the Brother HL-5250DN and have been happy with it. It is plenty fast and quiet, prints duplex and is directly networkable. The quality of the laser printing does not always measure up to our old Apple Laserwriter 360 – which was picture-perfect and flawless until the day it died (recent) – but then again the Brother did not cost $1500, like the Laserwriter did in its day.

So I’m getting the distinct impression that Brother laser printers are worth a look :wink: Anyone have experience of HP in this area? I’ve always used HP inkjets and never regretted it, but I’ve got no experience with their laser printers.

Older HP laser printers were real workhorses, but almost all HP laser printers that I’m familiar with run very hot (the fuser, I think). I deleted a long, involved explanation, but a concise version is that I have an HP 1220 and have experienced both condensation issues (to the point where water literally drips off the tray above the output tray) and paper curling issues. Others have used the plainer version 1200 just fine, though.

The Brother printers have been problem free.

(To be fair, I do live near the coast, which no doubt exacerbated the problem.)

For manuscripts, you can’t beat the Brother laser printers, imo. For camera-ready graphics, though, you would want something a bit more higher-end.

Interesting. I live in a totally non-humid and temperate area, so that problem might not affect me so much, but either way it sounds like I’d be better off with a Brother. Quick, reliable manuscript printing is exactly why I’m interested in a laser printer; as I said, I can always drag the inkjet out if I need something fancy.

Hi, I have had a small HP 4L Laserjet printer for almost 15 years ! It doesn’t print 60 pages a minute or anything but never have had a problem worse than a (very) occasional paper jam. A work horse indeed. So I can certainly vouch for older HP laser printers.


I had Apple laser printers back in the day, and then an HP4MP which ran very well for me for a long time. Then I needed to print more than 4 copies a minute (or less with its slow processing speed) would allow.

I would recommend a secondhand laser printer – I bought mine on eBay for a couple of hundred dollars (in Australia).

Warnings when buying a secondhand laser printer:

  • Always buy on the basis that you can pick up the printer (not have it sent by courier/mail)
  • Clarify that the test page is clean and sharp, with no smudges or unwanted dots or lines
  • Demand that before you complete the purchase you can see the above confirmed on the spot by having the printer plugged into the wall and turning out a test page
  • Take a plastic bag (or two) and before you move the printer, remove the toner cassette and in the case of the Kyocera, the waste bottle, to avoid having toner spread throughout the machine by the time you get home
  • Also, check the weight of the unit before purchase to make sure you can physically move it.

The model I bought is the Kyocera FS3800N with the optional (on the 3800) duplex unit (duplex seems to be standard on most current models). The “N” designation means it has the card for Ethernet fitted. This makes it very easy to connect up. On Mac, just plug it in, turn it on, then select it as a printer.

On single side, it zaps through the pages at about 30 a minute and it will print all day. I also have a 500 sheet extra cassette.

In duplex printing, it runs a little slower, but still very fast. It does jam occasionally; but I think that is pretty much par for the course with duplexers. If you get the right paper running the right way – so it doesn’t curl excessively – jams are infrequent, even rare.

It is very cheap to run, relatively environmentally friendly, and there are discount toner cassettes available. Toner cartridges print 20,000-30,000 copies.

One caveat for all laser printing or photocopying of large quantities of material – you should have an exhaust fan in the room, and nearer to the printer than to you. Laser printers give off fumes that are not particularly person friendly. This is not an issue when printing the usual personal or even office printing quantities, but when you get your printer zapping out 10 copies of a 250 page book, well, there is a bit of a build up.

Cheers, Geoff

Geoffrey Heard, Business Writer & Publisher

“Type & Layout: Are you communicating or just making pretty shapes”, the secrets of how type can help you to sell or influence, and “How to start and produce a Magazine or Newsletter”, now at the new low price of $29.95. See the books at or Amazon.

Primarily ozone, possibly aromatic compounds from the plastic-based toner, plus traces of whatever release agents are used to prevent paper jams.

For a big run, it wouldn’t hurt to launch the job and then go to lunch.


A, on the HP v. Brother front … 2 brother printers (b/w lasers [hl720, hl1440] less than $US100) over 15 years. In the same time I went through i think it was 18 HP printers. The shear price difference in toner and purchase price made it tough to keep buying the HP.

The brother systems are also much faster then the equivalent priced HP.

xerox printers are durable. i have a friend who bought a low-end xerox for her business and then ran almost 300,000 sheets through it in a couple of months. no problems.

my xerox is a higher-end model, but i have not found anything that approaches a limit for it in terms of output. i’ve had it for two years, used it hard, and it behaves as if it’s new out of the box.

toner is relatively inexpensive. i buy a higher volume toner than most home office people would want. i get an 18,000 sheet deal of toner for about $180 usd. i could buy it in lower volume, but it would cost more.

if you got a low-end xerox, you’d probably find you could never wear it out. i think the low-end xerox machines are around $300 usd, but I haven’t looked at them in two years, so you’d need to check for yourself. also, check to make sure that they have a driver for macs. i don’t think all models do.

i’ve used hp printers for desktop printers for years. they’re durable. but the toner (or, as people have already commented, the ink) can get expensive. so, i only use them for little things. the rest i put through the xerox. my advice about checking for a mac driver before you buy goes double with these machines. even if they have a mac driver on the cd that ships with them, still download the most recent one from their site to prevent trouble.

people i know who buy a lot of office equipment recommend brother printers. i considered one, but went with xerox because of the capacity their printers offer.