Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

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.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Blog Articles for

Archive for November, 2016

Book Printing: A Book Print-Buying Case Study

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

I’m brokering a print job at the moment for a print buyer who used to be my assistant, long ago. Ironically, I used to design, produce, and buy the printing for this particular print book. What goes around, comes around.

The Print Book Specifications

The product in question is a 272-page perfect-bound textbook, 3000 copies, 6” x 9” format, produced on 70# opaque white uncoated stock with a 12pt cover. Since the front and back covers will print in four-color process ink plus one PMS, and the interior covers (front and back) will print in 4CP ink as well, the cover stock will be a coated-two-side (C2S) sheet. The text prints black only, so the 70# opaque stock will be adequate, if not generous. That is, the 272-page print book will have bulk due to the 70# text sheet (rather than a 60# text sheet, which also would have worked). Since the interior will be on a heavier text paper, it makes sense to print the covers on 12pt (instead of 10pt) stock.

My client initially gave me a page count of 270 pages for the text. This is not divisible by 4, 8, or 16, so the printer needs to add pages to complete the press signature. That makes a complete 272 pages (seventeen 16-page signatures), which is what the five printers to whom I bid out the job used in their print estimates.

I also added to my client’s specifications that three to five divider pages within the text bleed on all sides. In some cases, based on the size of the book (in this case 6” x 9”), the size of the press signature (in this case 16 pages), and the size of the printer’s press, there might not be enough room for the laid-out book pages, the printer’s marks, and the bleeds on a press sheet. To remedy this, a printer might move the book to another, larger press, and this might drive up the price. So I wanted the printers to know about the bleeds before estimating the job.

On the exterior covers, my client had requested a UV coating. Some printers do not have this capability. Instead they have chosen in-line aqueous coating equipment. Others would prefer to laminate the covers. In all cases, I just asked the book printers to be specific if they needed to deviate from the specs.

This was also true about substitutions for the text paper. My client had specified 70# Finch Opaque (or comparable). The printers had different “house” sheets (which would cost less, having been purchased in bulk for numerous clients). So what I did was ask the printers to be specific in their estimates, and I would let my client decide. (One printer bid on Finch, one selected Accent Opaque, and one chose Husky.)

Since I chose five printers located anywhere from the Midwest to the Eastern states, I knew that freight would be a consideration, so I provided the specific ZIP Code for the delivery.

How the Printers Responded

The first thing I noticed was that all printers responded immediately, acknowledging receipt of the specs. Many years ago, when I had my client’s job and was producing this book myself, it was not unusual for book printers to respond within 24 hours rather than immediately. Times have changed. Businesses are lean and hungry.

All bids but one arrived within 24 hours from my submission of specs. One printer’s rep was on vacation but she recovered immediately and actually submitted the low bid.

What I saw immediately was that three of the five bids clustered around an average price of about $13,500 plus freight. All of these were to be produced via sheetfed offset lithography. One bid was about $3,000 lower, but it was to be produced via web-fed offset lithography. (When I shared the prices with my client, I noted that web-fed offset runs the risk of web growth—text pages absorb moisture from the air and grow out beyond the trimmed covers. To pay less, she would have to understand this risk.)

When the final bid came in (from the printer’s rep who had been on vacation), it was about half the high bid. Why (particularly since she didn’t realize it was so low)? Personally, I think it is because the printer is located in a region of the country where prices (and salaries) are particularly low. Fortunately, when I saw the freight charge, I was pleased. It was higher than the rest of the bids from the other printers, but the total cost of printing and delivery was still lower than everybody else’s price.

To complicate matters, my client was on a tight schedule, and paper is not always immediately accessible (it has to be bought from the paper mill under acceptable terms and transported to the printer to be on hand for the press date). Therefore, the web-fed printer’s estimate was only good for a day (for this book printer to meet my client’s tight schedule, my client would need to make a commitment by the next morning; otherwise the paper would not arrive in time).

What We Can Learn From This Case Study

  1. Actually, as a print broker, I’m just like a print buyer (in the eyes of a printer, that is). I have access to information and pricing from multiple vendors, and yet many individual printers have far more knowledge of their own capabilities and pricing and less information about other vendors’ capabilities and costs. So if you are a print buyer, make it your business to know your printers’ specific equipment. Understand what equipment and printing technologies are most appropriate for your particular jobs, and then find a handful of printers that match your needs. Then develop partnerships (not adversarial relationships) with them.
  2. Consider printers located outside your geographical area. But keep in mind that if something goes wrong and you can’t resolve it over the phone, you may want to meet with your printer on-site at his plant. Keep in mind also that freight costs will be higher the farther away your printer is, so you’ll have to compare total costs (manufacturing and freight) to determine whether it’s worth it to go outside your immediate area.
  3. Allowing your printer to substitute paper may yield substantial savings. But make sure you know what paper your printer has included in the bid, and ask for printed samples to be safe.
  4. It’s easy to forget packing and shipping costs. If you need specific packaging (my client needs 20 books per carton), make it known and ask for the cost. To get a freight cost, provide a ZIP Code, a breakdown of all delivery locations, and whether the delivery locations have a loading dock (or are inside office deliveries). Breaking down a skid of books and then moving the cartons up the office elevators to another floor will cost more than a loading dock delivery. Don’t be caught off guard. Specify this early and discuss it with your printers.
  5. Consider the schedule. If you need the book immediately, you may have fewer options, since paper must be found, secured at favorable terms, and shipped before your printer starts the presswork. It’s better to contact your printers early and let them know a job is coming up, even if you don’t yet know exactly when it will be ready.

Custom Printing: Expanded Ink Sets for Offset Printing

Monday, November 14th, 2016

As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

In the case of custom printing this definitely holds true. I was amused to see (when I was reading “Key Themes at drupa 2016 Bring Industry 4.0 to the Forefront” by Cary Sherburne, 6/27/16, on that “fixed color palette printing” was one of the major trends in commercial printing.

The reason I found it amusing was that I had seen essentially the same (or perhaps similar) technology when I was an art director in the 1990s. Then I thought the concept was intriguing; now I’m pleased to see its return.

The Science Behind Color on Press

When you produce a job on an offset press you have a few options for adding color:

  1. You can add no additional color. That is, you can print the job in black ink only, or with additional screens of black (i.e., gray).
  2. You can print the job using the four process color inks (i.e., cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). By overlaying halftone screens of the four transparent process color inks, you can simulate a large range of hues.
  3. If you cannot quite match your chosen color with a process color build, you can add one or more PMS inks. These are special colors mixed by ink companies or in-house ink specialists. You print a PMS color using one of the inking units on press rather than simulate the color by overlapping transparent screens of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink.

The problem is that you just can’t simulate all of the possible colors within the PMS color gamut using only cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink. If your corporate logo color (for instance) has to be an exact match, you often need to add a PMS color to your CMYK (process color) ink set to make the match. (You can also use an additional “touch plate” of a PMS match color–say a deep blue–to enhance an offset litho reproduction of a fine art piece, or an intensely colored fashion, food, or automotive poster.)

The reason adding additional colors is problematic is that you need a larger press with more inking units (perhaps five or eight units rather than four). And this will raise the commercial printing price of your job.

From the point of view of the printer, shifting a press ink configuration from four colors to 4CP plus additional PMS colors can be time and labor intensive as well, because he will need to wash up the ink units to change the ink configuration. This will take time, so he will lose money (or need to raise his price).

The Idea Behind “Fixed Color Palette Printing”

To remedy these problems, ink companies have been working on expanded color sets—for a long time.

Back in the 1990s when I was an art director, one company I worked with added orange and green to the four process colors and called the result “Hexachrome” (apparently this became a Pantone-trademarked process). Another company had a version of the process they called “high-fidelity color.” Back then, the goal was to create the widest possible color gamut and match the most PMS colors. Saving money on wash-ups seemed to be less of an issue.

Now, according to “Key Themes at drupa 2016 Bring Industry 4.0 to the Forefront” by Cary Sherburne, the technology is back, known as “fixed color palette printing” or “extended gamut printing.” To quote from Sherbourne’s article describing the fixed-color offerings shown at drupa, “Companies including X-Rite Pantone, Esko, Asahi Photoproducts, Kodak, Heidelberg and more shared thoughts and solutions about this process printing technique using up to seven colors (CMYK plus orange, violet and green or blue) that enables more than 90% of Pantone colors to be achieved.”

What This Means: The Implications for Customers and Printers

Here are some thoughts:

  1. First of all, it’s interesting to note that between my experience of Hexachrome or Hi-Fidelity Color in the ’90s and the present moment, we have had a huge improvement in digital custom printing. For many years I have seen inkjet presses with “extended color sets.” That is, in order to expand the number of colors a large-format inkjet press can produce, manufacturers have added light versions of cyan and magenta; different black inks; orange and green; or red, green, and blue inks to the usual cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. In other words, by adding these colors (and creating a seven- or eight-color ink set), inkjet press manufacturers have dramatically enhanced color reproduction capabilities in large-format inkjet presses.
  2. The trend toward bringing this color management technique back to offset lithography and flexography tells me that the more traditional press manufacturers are trying to stay relevant by addressing the customer’s need for more accurate color.
  3. Moreover, a printer running presses with a fixed color palette can avoid extra wash ups and also gang together a number of jobs on press. In the past, with some jobs printing in process colors and other jobs printing in black plus one or more PMS colors, it was usually not possible to lay out a number of different customers’ jobs on the same press sheet. With fixed color palette printing, as long as all customers’ jobs are on the same paper stock (which is conceivable: say a 70# white gloss sheet), the only major determinants as to whether the jobs could be ganged up would be the dimensions of the jobs and the available room on the press sheet.
  4. Custom printing multiple jobs simultaneously and avoiding wash-ups by always using the same inksets will save the printers money and time. Quicker make-readies and ganged jobs will reduce the use of expensive materials, speed up the printing process, and therefore make offset printing more competitive with digital printing for shorter press runs. And for longer print jobs with no personalization, there will be a market demand for which offset lithography and flexography will still be the most cost-effective solutions.

Commercial Printing: Two Old-School Printing Options

Monday, November 7th, 2016

I had two “Aha!” moments recently about the commercial printing field, and I’d like to share them with you because they reflect the current values of popular culture and the commercial media.

An Actual, Physical, Post-Office-Ready Letter

As a printing broker I’m always looking for new clients, usually by referral because it just works better that way. I was given two names by a former colleague, and after researching their companies, I drafted a letter to send to each describing the services I could offer them.

But when I was ready to send the emails, I couldn’t do it. Their websites had no email contact information. There were just phone numbers. One led to an answering machine, and the other led to a receptionist who didn’t have the potential print buyer’s email address.

I was stumped. What to do next? I considered these two potential clients to be warm leads, since my former colleague had spoken well of both and had said they would be good people for me to know.

Then a lightbulb went off over my head. Send a letter. Of course. A physical, hand-signed print letter. I had the address for both firms. Why not?

What We Can Learn From This “Aha!” Moment

First of all, most people get well over 100 emails a day. I personally do whatever I can to glance at and then delete as many of mine as I can. They all look alike. They all have a subject line that looks the same. I wouldn’t blame my two potential clients for avoiding contact via email.

But a letter is personal, physical, something to hold in your hands.

Those of you who get upwards of 100 emails a day probably do not also get 100 pieces of physical mail in the mailbox. If you’re like me, you at least look briefly at each of the pieces of physical mail that arrive. The more personal they look, the more attention they get. A letter is hand-signed. It’s printed on paper with a pleasing texture and color. It has a presence. It has a duration (it’s permanent, even if it gets wet or torn) unlike the evanescent email.

Think of these things when you need to communicate with someone, even if it is a marketing effort that will reach hundreds or thousands of people:

  1. If you choose a memorable medium for the communication, either letters or print postcards, your message will stand out more than one of the hundreds of emails that reach your potential client’s in-box each day. It will have more impact because it will have less competition.
  2. Making a letter seem more personal involves the paper choice (color and texture). It also involves the weight of the paper (thicker paper gives a message an air or importance, so consider a 70# text stock or thicker, perhaps with a texture or “tooth”).
  3. You can get precanceled stamps through your Post Office. Direct marketers have found that people are more likely to open mail that has a stamp instead of a permit indicia or postage meter mark. It seems more personal. So ask about precanceled stamps.
  4. Signing a marketing letter means there’s a real person behind the machine. It makes the letter more personal, even if you offset print (or digitally print) the signature (I realize this is cheating). You might also consider using more casual, readable, and even “friendly” typefaces for your marketing design.
  5. Finally, consider print postcards as an alternative to letters. The postcard has one advantage over a letter. The recipient doesn’t have to open it. The message is immediately visible.

So if you can’t reach someone through email, and the phone rolls over into voice mail, consider the printed, hand-signed letter or postcard as a viable and perhaps even more personal, direct, and effective option.

Direct-to-T-Shirt Photo Printing

When I first read the term “direct-to-garment” printing in a commercial printing journal, I envisioned inkjet and dye sublimation printing on the clothing of jet-setters, literati, and models. I imagined high-end fashion venues and catwalks.

So when my fiancee and I were strolling on the boardwalk at the beach, I was surprised to see a small t-shirt printing store offering to print photos “directly from your iPhone” onto their t-shirts.

Now this really is a measure of the current zeitgeist (the mood or tone of this particular period in history). It is the marriage of the “selfie” and the t-shirt. Moreover, it reflects the glorification of the amateur photographer. These aren’t professionally shot images of romantic beaches. They are your own photos on your own t-shirts, photos shot by you (maybe even photos of you).

What We Can Learn From This “Aha!” Moment

In sales, they say that to a prospective client nothing is more pleasing to hear than the sound of his or her own name. This is probably true. In this case, we can assume that to a lot of people no image is more pleasing than their own. The coining of the term “selfie,” as well as the proliferation of “selfie sticks” that allow you to hold the camera far enough away from your face to take your own photo, will attest to this.

So if you’re a marketer, keep this in mind. Consider also that people like to wear t-shirts that make a statement. For those who don’t wear suits to work, the t-shirt has become the new “power tie,” an opportunity to make a personal and even political statement about one’s likes, dislikes, values, aspirations, etc.

If you add to this the recent advances in direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, you can basically take the world’s favorite canvas (the t-shirt), use the world’s easiest to master printing press (the inkjet printer), add the world’s favorite image (one’s own face), and make a truly personal statement.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved