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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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Custom Printing: How to Approach Print Job Deliveries

It is very easy to wait until the last minute to collect delivery information for a custom printing job. You’re focusing on getting the art files to the printer, looking at proofs, and a myriad of other tasks. The last thing you’re thinking about is the actual completion of the job.

Well, this can make for a tumultuous end-game for a print book production run, a print run of marketing collateral, or any other large commercial printing job for that matter.

Things to Consider About Deliveries

I’ve been brokering three 5.5” x 8.5” perfect-bound print books for a small publisher. They are fiction and poetry books. It’s nice to do something creative for a while. Although the client and I had been clear at the beginning of the printing process that copies would go to a Midwest book distributor, there were more deliveries to address as the book printing process wound down.

In addition to the book distributor, there were deliveries to be made to a warehouse, a little further South, and there was a delivery to the home of the authors for various book signing events. The authors live on the East Coast.

Create a Delivery Spreadsheet

So this is what I did, and this is what I’d suggest that you do if you’re printing almost any kind of large job. The larger and more complex the job, in fact, the more important it is to get all this information in writing in one place. This will help your printer, and it will help you focus. You’d be surprised at what questions arise when you create this kind of spreadsheet.

This is what I included in the spreadsheet (and what I’d encourage you to include in your delivery form as well):

    1. I had the client break down the number of copies of each book title to be sent to each of three delivery points, and I alerted the book printer. This was the first section of the spreadsheet.


    1. I collected all delivery address information from the client. I made sure I also included contact people, phone numbers, and email addresses. I shared all of this with the book printer’s customer service rep, who would be coordinating the deliveries.


    1. I found out who would be responsible for each delivery. You will find, when you look closely at a printing estimate, that many printers (particularly book printers) have simply noted “FOB printer’s loading dock” on the estimate. This means their responsibility ends at this point, and whatever delivery service you have contacted separately has to take responsibility for the safe delivery of the job. You may choose to have the printer arrange for delivery (I think this is a good idea). However, in some cases, with book distributors, warehouses, and the like, it can be more cost effective to have the book distributor’s or warehouse’s truck come to your printer and pick up the job.


    1. I found out when the job would ship and when it would be delivered. Along with the customer service rep at the book printer, I also determined who would coordinate the shipping and ensure that the book distributor and warehouse staff were alerted to the delivery date and time.


    1. I discussed with the customer service rep such issues as the number of cartons, whether they would be stacked on one pallet (all three book titles), how high the skid could be packed, and what information would be printed on “flags” (sheets of paper with barcodes) placed under the pallet shrink wrap to identify the contents, the number of cartons, the number of books per carton, and the total number of books in the job. I also discussed the book distributor’s and warehouse’s requirements for carton weight and for labeling the pallet with a purchase order. In this case, the entire skid would be seen as a single “box,” so only two labels needed to be included (and visible). In your case, things might be different. You might need to put a sheet in every box for your particular warehouse. So find out early, since this kind of labeling would be done in the bindery as the job is being cartoned.


    1. Since the client’s copies were few (200 per title), I discussed delivery options with the book printer’s customer service rep. She agreed to check into the advisability of sending the 600 books (200 x 3 titles) via UPS Ground or as an “LTL” (less than truckload shipment).


  1. In all of these cases (and I realize your particular situation will be different from mine), I’d strongly advise you to rely on your printer’s expertise. Ask questions, and request competitive delivery pricing if you want, but no one will understand this like your printer or his customer service rep.

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