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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Book Printing: Print Brokering Book Case Study

An associate of mine is an importer/exporter. He has a source in China for LCD books: small marketing booklets with a video screen imbedded in the inside back cover, along with speakers, volume controls, rechargeable batteries, and all the other components needed to play one or more videos (or replace the videos as needed).

These LCD video books make a dramatic marketing impression, combining the tactile and personal nature of a print book with the added sensory stimuli of sound and motion that come with video. They give the viewer an immersive experience, allowing her or him to absorb marketing information about a high-end service or product. For the marketer, this technology provides an opportunity to speak (literally) directly to the prospective buyer.

The Challenge: How to Produce an LCD Video Book

That said, these books are expensive, the supplier has a minimum run of 100 copies, and the books are all the same within a press run (i.e., static as opposed to variable).

My associate wants options. I suggested finding a way to produce the job in the US instead of China, and finding a way to combine the LCD video book format with digital custom printing rather than offset printing.


My associate and I do foresee a market for the offset printed LCD video books for high-end marketing. A Lexus dealer, for instance, might order several hundred copies to give to prospective clients on the verge of buying a Lexus luxury automobile. A take-home marketing piece that blends video and print might “seal the deal” by giving the client a way to relive the experience of driving a Lexus. After all, video is powerful and persuasive.

However, on a more personal level, a middle-aged family member might want to give his or her parents such a video book as a birthday gift, showcasing the events and successes in the lives of the grandchildren. With a minimum print run of 100 copies, such a gift would be prohibitively expensive for most people. The same goes for a wedding party or a special vacation. In these cases, only a few copies of such an LCD video book would be needed. Yet there might be a sizable market for such video books, just as there is a market for photo print books at “big box” stores like Costco.

Options for Producing the LCD Video Book

Right away my client and I identified the risks in buying these books from China. What if the designer’s art files were not as expected, and the books the Chinese vendor delivered had flaws. Granted, we would see proofs, but China is far away, and how can you seek redress for a custom printing job gone wrong in such a case, particularly when you have paid in full prior to delivery?

Moreover, if we had a local commercial printing vendor digitally produce the press sheets that would then be sent to China to be converted (scored, folded, and glued) into these LCD video books, wouldn’t we be taking a big risk? If the press sheets weren’t exactly to spec (or if there were any miscommunications between the local printer in the United States and the converter in China, who would use the press sheets to build the exterior of the LCD video book and then add the video screen), it would be a catastrophe.

How to Find a Local Vendor

First of all, I made an “instructional video.” Using a sample LCD video book, I made a 30-second movie with an iPhone to show exactly how the screen fit into the interior back cover (cover #3). I showed how the book opened, where the mini USB port was (for installing new videos and charging the unit). I wanted something that would let local vendors immediately understand the structure and technology of the video book.

I sent the video to a US commercial printing supplier I trust that focuses on integrated media and not just ink (or toner) on paper. This particular printer helps clients merge traditional print marketing work with video, social media, and such, to help present a unified marketing campaign to its clients’ clients.

I asked them how they could help and what they would suggest.

How to Coordinate Work from Two Vendors

We have discussed the following options. Nothing has been decided, but the goal at this point seems to be to use an HP Indigo digital press to produce a short run of printed sheets that would somehow be attached to blank video boxes supplied by my colleague’s Chinese vendor.

If we were to buy a number of unprinted boxes (fully converted, with the video screens already embedded), and then attach the printed marketing material and upload the video, we could vary the images from box to box. We would not need to have 100 or 100,000 copies of the same box. Therefore, we could distribute a larger press run from China to multiple clients here in the United States after individually imprinting them locally.

With that goal in mind, the next step is determine how to adorn the boxes. I have suggested a four-color custom label that would be printed on adhesive stock on the HP Indigo and then hand-applied to the box. If the design of the custom printed label were such that the edges of the box (the 3/4” “build”) could be white, then the labels would not need to be wrapped around the edges of the box. We could just diecut a window for the LCD video screen on cover #3. The front cover label, inside front cover label, and back cover label could all be a consistent dimension (say 4” x 6”).

That’s where we are now, a long way from production. The cost to produce the blank boxes with imbedded video screens in China, added to the cost to print and affix the custom labels, would need to be less than the market rate for such an LCD video book—but we can cross all of these bridges as we come to them. For now, this is an exciting challenge.

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