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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: Ways to Pay, If You’re an Entrepreneur

As I think back over the last several years years of print brokering work, I realize that a rather large percentage of my clients have been self-funding their commercial printing projects. They’re entrepreneurs.

When I sell printing to a for-profit, or non-profit, organization, I’m dealing with a complex bureaucracy usually, but the money is always easily available to pay the print bills. And sometimes the bills are huge, for case-bound print books and longer runs of perfect bound books, for instance.

An Entrepreneur’s Project: The Holocaust Book

In contrast, for an entrepreneur the job may be a self-published book (perhaps for a wedding or a Bar Mitzvah). A few years ago I brokered a large print book about the Holocaust for a family with many relatives who had survived. It was a large-format memorial to their tenacity set forth in photos and text. In this case the books were not sold but rather given out at family gatherings. The last I heard, however, was that the book was so intriguing that the author had considered shopping it around to various synagogues and other Jewish organizations, so their members might benefit from the book as well.

In this case, the print book was produced on an HP Indigo, or at least the text was produced in this way. As I look back at my notes I see that the covers were offset printed and then laminated. For a short run of 65 books, this 180-page, 9” x 12” format, perfect bound book was an ideal candidate for the HP Indigo. It was too short for conventional offset (too short for this option to be economically feasible, that is), but doing a short offset press run of the covers ensured their highest quality.

In this case, as I’m reviewing the notes, it looks like my client did a wire transfer from his bank to the printer to prepay for the commercial printing services.

For the entrepreneur, in many cases the only payment options available are charging the custom printing to a credit card, prepaying by check (with the printing job being put on hold until payment clears), or transferring funds by wire from the bank. Unlike a larger organization (like an educational foundation), many sole proprietors don’t want to undergo a credit check, which would be a requirement for being billed after the job has been printed and delivered.

In fact, in many cases, since commercial printing necessitates the printer’s buying supplies before the print run (such as paper and ink), and doing a large amount of work before delivering the printed product, it’s very much the norm for a print supplier to expect payment before the printing has begun. One of the printers I frequent even requires 110 percent of the cost up front to cover any overage produced during the press run.

Again, large businesses usually sidestep this issue by applying for credit with the commercial printing vendor.

Another Entrepreneur’s Project: The Fashionista’s Color Book

I’ve written many PIE Blog articles about a “fashionista” who is producing a color swatch book with each page a different hue, like a Pantone color book. The colors correspond to particular complexions and help women choose flattering wardrobe colors.

My client initially had secured funding through a partner. This particular job (22 originals multiplied by so many copies of each book) would cost about $5,500 to print digitally (again, the HP Indigo was to be the perfect commercial printing solution, since the ultra-short-run nature of the job lent itself to electrophotographic, digital technology).

Unfortunately, my client recently had a falling out with her source of funding. People have differences of opinion, and in the case of entrepreneurs, gaining seed money often entails giving up control over one’s work. Often the partner not only wants the money back after the product has been sold, but also desires control over the focus and direction of the business during and after the production of the job.

My client would have none of this, understandably. After all, the product was her creation, the fruits of her hard work. I don’t blame her. So she and I came up with a plan.

Making a Prototype of the Color Book

Digital printing, either electrophotography (laser printing) or inkjet printing, lends itself to a “print run of one copy.” It’s expensive, but it can be done. In contrast, to offset print one copy of my client’s color book would be astronomically expensive.

So here’s the plan. For approximately $500 (it may go up or down), the printer will produce a single copy of one original book (approximately 1.5” x 2.5”, 114 pages drilled in one corner and bound with a single screw-and-post assembly, printed on 12 pt gloss stock with 18 pt covers). The pages will all be collated and cut down to size. They may even be UV coated. But they will not be round cornered because this is an analog process, which, like offset printing, would be exorbitant for one copy of one book.

That said, my client’s goal will be to take this print book to her clients, sell them on the concept, and take orders and prepayment. Fortunately, she already has a number of interested clients because she has produced this series of color books before. If her clients prepay for the books, one by one, my client will have the funding to compensate the printer without ceding any control to a silent partner.

How else could she have done this? She could have gone through a “crowdfunding” website for entrepreneurs, such as Kickstarter. I’m sure there are other ways as well (such as gifts or loans through family and friends).

How This Relates to You

Hopefully it doesn’t and never will, if you work for a large organization. In this case it may just open up your awareness to include those who do it all on their own. But if you’re starting a business and need to pay the printer, perhaps these two stories will get you thinking about alternative sources of funding. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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