Working with Print Service Providers: A Few Tips
I recently spoke with a friend from college and fellow graphic designer. She got a job to design a publication for a ministry. I received an email from her with a quote from a printer and she asked if the price was reasonable. The print design job in question is a 52 page program including cover, perfect bound, gloss text for the inside, gloss cover for the outside and the quantity is 150. While I could not answer her question initially, I gave some guidance toward evaluating the quote to make a good decision. This is information any graphic designer or marketer working with Print Service Providers (PSP) can use.
Some graphic designers have never worked with a printer; since Colleges and Universities barely teach pre-press and print production, I can see why. Even in the market place, marketers have the task of working with printers versus graphic designers. Additionally, Web Design and UI/UX Design have encompassed the industry making print design, pre-press and working with printers a specialized area. Regardless of the dominance of Web and UI/UX Design some knowledge of pre-press and working with printers is still needed by designers.
A few tips for working with Print Service Providers
When evaluating whether or not a price is high or average the best thing to do is get a second quote and compare the two. If one is much higher, get a third quote. If you have two quotes close in price, you can use other factors like printing equipment, turnaround time and location to decide the winner.
This job is a digital print job because the quantity is 150 books. Digital printing works best for short runs. A short run can be defined as job with a quantity less than 2000 finished pieces. The deciding factor on equipment will be the digital press to run the job. Here in South Florida many printers run the Xerox 700. If one printer is running a Xerox 800/1000, the Xerox 800/1000 will provide the better print. There are other digital presses comparable to the Xerox like the HP Indigo. The Indigo might have a higher price tag but the quality of the prints are nice.
Some shops are busier than others and some turnaround times can be longer or shorter. Most shops average a 2-4 day turnaround time but it is possible to see longer. When looking at turnaround times you have to consider any unique components in your job. In this job, the unique component is perfect binding. Any job that has a unique finishing component may add to the turnaround time. Another factor with unique components is whether they are produced in-house or outsourced to a vendor. If the perfect binding is outsourced then that has to be taken into consideration and may add 1-2 days. If completed in house then it should be included in the average turnaround time.
Location, Location, Location
When looking for a printer most people look online and take the first listing to show up in the search results. Online printers tend to offer a great price but they can be located in state or out of state. Working with an out of state printer will possibly introduce higher shipping cost that can negate a good price. Another downside to using an out of state printer is not being able to see a physical proof without additional cost plus the time to deliver. When working with a local printer you have the option to see a physical proof, you can even opt for delivery by courier, FedEx or UPS which adds a day in the state of Florida. If time is crucial to the job, opt for an electronic proof, which is a pdf file.
For this job, these factors would help me decide where to print. To find all this out only requires asking few more questions. The more you know the easier to make a good decision and complete the job on time without having to rush.