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 February, 2018

Custom Printing: Inkjet Printing on Corrugated Board

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

A print consulting client of mine recently asked why there was so much excitement about inkjet printing on corrugated board, so I did some quick research and gave him the following presentation. Personally I think digital printing on corrugated board will be a game changer. Here’s why.

The Expensive Analog Printing Options

First of all, the interior “S”-shaped ridges in corrugated board (called “fluting”) are what make it both strong and lightweight. It’s perfect for boxes because it can support the weight of the contents, but it doesn’t add much overall weight to the packaged product. In fact, the finer the corrugation (E-fluting for instance), the smaller the hills and valleys of the fluting, and the stronger the box.

Within corrugated board, the fluting is essentially the center of a paper sandwich. On both the top and bottom of the “S”-shaped, sinuous fluting is a flat piece of paper glued to the corrugation. Making this paper sandwich is an involved process requiring expensive machinery. Therefore, you need a lot of start-up cash to enter this kind of work, and you need to do long production runs to make it cost effective.

Keep in mind that this is even before you do any custom printing on the cardboard. Even though the fluting is strong, it is easily crushed, so offset printing is not a viable option for adding type and photos to a corrugated box. The offset press rollers would just flatten the corrugated board during printing.

Therefore, this leaves such direct-printing options as flexography (printing on the corrugated board with rubber relief plates), gravure, and custom screen printing.

Or, you can offset print a “liner” (the front flat paper panel of the corrugated board) and then glue this “preprint” to the fluting. Again, this requires very long press runs to be economical, because you are both creating the corrugated board and printing and affixing the front preprinted liner in one comprehensive manufacturing effort.

Another option is to purchase ready-made fluted board and then print and affix 4-color lithographic labels (smaller than, or the same size as, the sides of the converted box).

These are your analog options for high-quality, high-detail custom printing on corrugated board. Of the options I mentioned earlier, flexography is not as precise as offset lithography. Even though this relief printing option will not crush the fluted board, it is best only for line work or flat solid colors. It doesn’t hold the detail or color fidelity (or consistency) of offset lithography. And both gravure and custom screen printing (the other options I mentioned) are only economical for long or extremely long runs (perhaps thousands or hundreds of thousands of copies). This is due to the cost of the extensive make-ready, which must be amortized over a long run to make sense economically.

The Digital Option for Corrugated Board

But the trend these days is toward shorter press runs and quick turn-arounds, and with the advent of digital technology, you now have options. The benefit of inkjet printing on corrugated board is that there is essentially no make-ready, so you can start printing right away from a digital file, and you can infinitely vary each cardboard box blank.

(Keep in mind that you are either digitally printing on flat cardboard that will need to be die cut, scored, folded, and glued to be converted into a usable box, or you are printing on the side of a flat box that has already been scored, folded, and glued but just not yet opened.)

Recent flatbed inkjet printers provide a number of benefits:

  1. The inks are usually UV-LED in composition. This means they are cured instantly with UV light. So corrugated box blanks can be processed immediately after being printed. The inks can also be laid down successfully on non-porous as well as porous substrates, because they don’t need to seep into the paper substrate to dry. In addition, once the inks are cured with the UV light, they are rub resistant and low migration. (That is, they won’t come off onto the contents of the box–such as food–and they won’t scuff off the box and look ugly.)
  2. The inkjet color sets usually incorporate more than the traditional cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. Some include an orange, green, and/or violet. Other inkjet equipment may include light magenta and light cyan. What this means is that the color space is larger than that of traditional offset printing (or flexography, gravure, or custom screen printing). You can match more corporate colors (i.e., PMS colors), and you can achieve deep, rich hues in the greens and purples (as well as the other colors), while maintaining crisp, detailed imagery and type rivaling that of offset commercial printing. Having an on-board, seven-color inkset also means you don’t have to mix and store an inventory of extra colors (as you would in offset lithography if you needed to include PMS match colors).
  3. The consumables in such inkjet equipment are more environmentally friendly than solvent-based petroleum inks often used in offset commercial printing. There are fewer or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and the inks and toners (for laser printing) are more easily recycled. In addition, there’s a lot less waste, and since you can print only what you need, there’s no need to store unused printed copies that may eventually be thrown away once they are out of date.

Marketing Benefits of Digital Printing

As a marketing executive, if you inkjet print directly onto corrugated boxes, you can produce short runs that will be immediately appropriate for the season (summer, for instance). Later in the year you can change the creative and print new boxes for fall or winter. Or you can personalize each box for each recipient. Because there’s minimal make-ready, your unit cost will be the same (or very close) whether you print one box or several hundred.

(Granted, at a certain point the cost efficiencies of the traditional analog printing processes will make digital printing less attractive. Digitally printing ten thousand boxes will take a lot longer than custom printing them via flexography, screen printing, or gravure.)

But for short runs it’s ideal. Even if you just want to produce one box as a prototype, you can do this cost-effectively. (This would be out of the question for any of the analog processes.) If your client saw the prototype and wanted to make late-stage editorial changes, this wouldn’t be a problem. You could even make a handful of prototype boxes, put them in stores, and see which one sold the product the best. And all of this would eliminate the need to store printed corrugated board inventory. Moreover, you could even use digital laser cutting and creasing equipment to cut the corrugated board into the final boxes.

Why I Think This Is Exciting

To me this is exciting technology because it addresses a sector of commercial printing that is growing dramatically. Over the years some books and periodicals have migrated to digital-only format, but you really can’t do this with packaging. To date, there’s no way to eliminate the custom printing of folding cartons, flexible packaging, and corrugated board. Packaging is a necessity.

Because of this, companies are pouring money into developing digital package printing technology. Many of the big names in printing are involved (HP, Durst, EFI), and they are building this equipment into sturdy frames (like the structures of traditional offset presses) that will be workhorses for years to come.

Moreover, they are building their color-management expertise into the equipment, and they are incorporating technology that will coordinate all metadata (everything from the trim size to the color information) to ensure accuracy and repeatability of all printing and finishing processes. Plus, the digital finishing (cutting and binding) capabilities are starting to be put into place.

The original equipment manufacturers know that there’s a market for this technology, and they’re stepping up to the challenge.

Book Printing: Fashion Color Book Reprint–Already

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

I always learn something from my clients, and the creator of both the color fashion swatch book I’ve been working on for the last year and a half and also of the color system underlying this product, is already reprinting the book.

So the initial copies have been received remarkably well.

How to Approach a Reprint

Here’s a short recap of the specs: There are 22 versions of the color books. Each is approximately 3.5” x 1.5”, with 55 color swatches and front matter. (In many cases, the colors differ from print book to print book, based on the complexion of the individual in question. The purpose of the books is to help clients choose appropriate fashion colors based on their hair color, eye color, and skin tone.

Needless to say, in order to keep my client’s initial expense under budget, she only printed a limited number of copies of each of the 22 original print books (ranging from 7 to 24 copies, depending on the expected popularity of the individual books).

At this point, some have sold better than expected and are almost ready for reprinting. What to do? And how to keep my client’s clients happy? After all, even though they are willing to wait (the books are that popular), it would be preferable to fulfill the orders immediately.

The Initial Plan

My client has a limited reprint budget since she pays all costs out of her own pocket. She wants to spend $1,000. She has asked me how many print books she can get for this amount. In this way, she has options. She can decide to reprint now; or she can wait, take more orders, collect funds, and reprint a larger batch in a few months.

I contacted the printer and was asked for my client’s list of specific books to reprint (a wish list, containing four titles, three of which were essential, and one of which would be reprinted if the funds allowed).

The whole estimating task was somewhat complex, since pages of the print books would need to fit on an Indigo 10000 press sheet (approximately 20” x 29”). The good news is that the sheet size is unusually large for an HP Indigo or any other digital press. In fact, according to this printer’s website, their HP Indigo 10000 sets this printer apart from other commercial print vendors in the mid-Atlantic area.

Based on the particular titles (the 4 books out of 22), the printer gave me a target of from 6 to 10 copies of each. This total would come in under the $1,000 budget. The reason the book totals were vague is as follows: This is an especially short press run. Therefore, it will depend on the makeready used for the laminating, collating, trimming, and round-cornering processes as to what quantity the printer will get. Six copies would be the appropriate quantity for the $1,000 cost, but the printer will need to run more sets to allow for spoilage within the other processes. Therefore, the printer’s customer service rep thinks we could get closer to 10 of each.

Plan B, for a Larger Custom Printing Run

Even though digital printing on the HP Indigo is a quick process, it still does require some makeready, so continually reprinting a job in small batches would start to become expensive and eat into my client’s profit. More specifically, the $1000 press run would yield 24 to 40 books at approximately $41 each (worst case scenario, assuming 6 copies per print book title), in contrast to the initial printing (which yielded between 7 and 24 copies per original, depending on the specific book), which cost closer to $18 per copy.

The challenge would be to keep the unit cost down (after all, the price charged minus the cost of the book would be my client’s profit, and a $20 difference per print book could add up quickly in lost profits).

Conversely, not reprinting in batches could have a cost as well. If my client’s clients paid up front and then waited longer then they might like for the books to be reprinted, my client could lose customers.

So Plan B is to secure another backer (I believe “angel funding” is the term these days). If my client can secure a loan from a partner, who would add approximately $5,000 to the pot in return for a percentage over the initial outlay, within a specified time, the total budget would jump from $1,000 to $6,000. For this amount, my client could get 7 to 24 copies of all 22 books, or even more (the same as in the initial printing), and fulfill her client’s orders immediately.

Although this is not a printing issue, per se, it is an interesting view of how both large businesses and entrepreneurs must operate. They must commit funds with the expectation of selling enough of a product to not only recapture the initial outlay but also reap a profit.

Digital Printing Benefits

What makes this a special case is twofold:

  1. Before the advent of digital printing, my client and I would not even be having this conversation. Doing a short run on an offset press of so many originals would have been cost-prohibitive. Digital printing has made printing a handful of copies of 22 books a possibility, not just for a business but for a single-person shop, an entrepreneur. And the quality is superb. My client could not otherwise sell color-critical books of fashion color swatches.
  2. The size of the digital press (approximately 20” x 29”) is unusual. Most digital presses accept 13” x 19” sheets. Therefore, the unit cost for my client’s books will be more reasonable (even if they are now approximately $41 each). Laying out 114 pages plus covers (the 55 swatches, front and back, plus front matter) would require significantly more press sheets on a smaller digital press. In short, most other printers in the mid-Atlantic region could not do this job this effectively at the moment.

So we’ll see what happens.

Book Printing: How to Approach a Small Poetry Booklet

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

A poet was referred to me recently by a husband-and-wife publishing team for whom I do print brokering work. The couple publishes fiction and poetry, and they wanted me to help a friend of theirs produce a print book of poems about her recently deceased husband.

So I called her and worked up specifications for her book of poems (called a “chapbook”), a very simple design with a small format of 4.5” x 6”, saddle-stitched, on 70# cream text stock with a 10pt. cream cover, and comprising only 28 pages plus covers. She only needed 20 copies for her close friends.

Clearly, due to the press run, it would require custom printing on a digital press, so I sent the specs to two vendors with HP Indigo presses. One printer’s price came in at almost $800. The other barely exceeded $200. It was a clear choice.

Interim Thoughts

At this point there are two interesting things to note:

  1. This client was self-publishing her work. And her press run was very small: 20 copies. As I noted in an earlier blog, many of my clients are now self-publishing their work. I think it’s a growing trend, and it necessitates access to quality digital commercial printing equipment.
  2. My client had never produced a chapbook, so she didn’t know how to get her poems ready for the printer. She had used MS Word comfortably, but I told her that many printers will not accept MS Word files because they can be problematic. (They prefer InDesign files or PDFs.) Since my new client didn’t know about preparing press-ready PDF files in InDesign, I offered her my design and production services.

The Design of the Print Book

I approached the job as follows. It was small and required only a few hours of design work. However, since I no longer do more than about one design job a year (I used to be a print designer and then an art director), I was more conscious and conscientious about the steps. They were no longer second nature.

I thought that you, as designers, might benefit from my approach to the layout process.

  1. The first thing I did was design a sample page spread for the text of the print book. I used master pages, and considered such things as margins, treatment of poem titles, and treatment of folios. I gave my client two options based on her stated preference for Palatino type. (I chose Palatino for the text and heads, and then Garamond as an option.) I selected Garamond because of the serious nature of poetry about a deceased loved one. I also set the poem titles in all caps, again due to the gravity of the subject matter.
  2. My client had noted a preference for 11pt. type to ensure readability. Based on the length of her lines of poetry, I made the outer margins of the booklet slightly smaller than usual. I didn’t want any line of poetry to wrap onto the following line.
  3. I didn’t take the easy way out. Instead of just coding the type, I created style sheets in InDesign, knowing that I could later apply these to all poems in the book. Time spent in preparing style sheets would be worth it later when I could just apply these to all poem titles and text blocks.
  4. When my client had approved the typeface (Garamond), I produced all pages of the text based on her MS Word file.
  5. Then, for the cover, I used a similar type treatment (all caps for the most important words in the print book title). I wanted the tone and appearance of the cover to match the tone and appearance of the text and poem titles inside the book.
  6. In spite of the fact that my client had specified a 32-page book, I noticed that the laid out book actually came to 26 pages. I told my client that it would have to be 28 pages (for a saddle-stitched book, binding would necessitate 4-page signatures for the staples to hold the pages together). So my client added some back matter and an extra poem.
  7. Early in the process I had suggested a cream white 70# text stock. I said this would look somewhat subdued. My client had suggested a russet brown solid color for the cover, with the book title reversed out of the solid. Without thinking, I had initially specified a 10pt. white cover stock (C1S, or coated one side). I thought the uncoated, interior side of the cover would match the texture of the uncoated interior pages. However, I had not initially thought about the color. Having a white interior book cover followed by a cream text stock would look odd. Therefore, I asked the printer for his suggested cream cover stocks (both coated and uncoated). He suggested a 100# cream uncoated cover stock.
  8. By this time, I had designed the cover, and my client had approved it. (It was a type-only design reversed out of a full-bleed reddish brown background.) I had built the brown out of 4-color process toners since the print book would be a digitally printed product. If my client had needed 500 books, the printer would have offset printed the job, and we could have used a PMS color for the brown, but since the job would be digital, the brown had to be built out of the HP Indigo’s 4-color process liquid toners.
  9. The printer had suggested a dull film laminate over the front and back covers. I was a bit concerned, because at this point I thought an entirely uncoated book (text and cover) might be nice. That said, the printer confirmed that the heavy coverage of liquid toner on the front of the print book could be scratched unless it was coated in some way. So I shared this information with my client, and she agreed.

As of today, this is where we are in the process.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

  1. Apply good habits to all jobs. This is just a small, text-only booklet of poems. But using InDesign style sheets and master pages is a good practice whether the book is 28 pages or 500. It will ensure consistency, make the overall production process go more smoothly and quickly, and allow you to easily make global style changes (fonts or point sizes, for instance).
  2. Think about the paper as well as the design. If possible, get a paper dummy so you can see how it will feel in your hands. Consider the paper color. Be wary of using a white cover on an off-white text.
  3. Consider the coating you will apply to the book covers. Some printers have aqueous, some UV coating, some film laminate. If your book printer thinks the inks or toners will scuff, make sure you add one of these coatings. They come in dull as well as gloss. If you want an uncoated cover, make sure your printer sees a sample PDF of your art to ensure that scuffing won’t be a problem.
  4. In fact, it’s a useful practice to send a PDF of the book to your printer early in the job (as you’re specifying the parameters for the print book). If he sees anything that might be problematic, he can tell you.
  5. Look at print book design as a fluid process. I changed both the page count and the cover paper stock as the design progressed and then requested updated pricing for my client.

Custom Printing: Interpreting Fabric Printing Problems

Friday, February 9th, 2018

For a number of years, a client of mine has been periodically printing a small color book (similar to a PMS swatch book) for fashion. It helps women choose colors for clothes and make up that will complement their complexions.

Recently my client has branched out into garment printing based on her proprietary color formulas. Even though these clothes will be fashionable, what will make them stand out from their competition is the specific colors my client is selling. That is, she’s really not just in the clothing business. She’s in the “color-as-fashion” business.

That said, my client has been choosing vendors to produce her garments. Many of them are online commercial printing establishments. I have been helping my client with these choices, giving her feedback and suggestions. In one case recently with a new vendor, my client sent in a color pattern for printing on a polyester chiffon fabric.

It was just for a one-off sample, but she selected the sample pattern without confirming the colors. Or, rather, she made her color decisions based on the appearance of the art on her computer screen rather than the colors in her color swatch book. Oops. The yellow scarf sample came back with a slightly greenish gold cast. My client and her financial partner were not pleased. So my client came back to me to ask what had happened.

Color Monitor vs. Color Swatch Books

The first thing I said to my client was that the problem with the scarf was “information,” not a “failure.” I remember when I learned this lesson almost thirty years ago, when a cover matchprint proof for a book had looked horrible. An associate of mine said that the proof had saved me from a printing error, and therefore it was a success. That comment had permanently changed my point of view.

So I encouraged my client to learn from the experience. I reminded her that color created with light on a computer monitor is not the same as color produced with ink. This goes for fabric custom printing as well as offset printing. Therefore, I encouraged her to send in new art for a second test (if she liked the vendor’s pricing and customer service). I asked her to use her color bridge (a Pantone product that puts PMS colors alongside their nearest CMYK match) and select a color that fit her proprietary color formula for fashion.

The Substrate and the Commercial Printing Process

I’m new to fabric printing, but I know that, in printing, the substrate always affects the colors perceived by the human eye. My client had also mentioned that polyester chiffon reduces the saturation of a color. Her dissatisfaction arose from the color’s being too much of a greenish gold rather than a true yellow. My thought was that the fabric had contributed to a problem that had started with the choice of a color on the monitor rather than from a swatch book.

Polyester chiffon is one of a number of popular synthetic fabrics. Since it is a polyester, the printing method of choice would be dye sublimation. While I am not sure of the exact cause of the problem, I wonder whether there are any color shifts, perhaps within certain color families, that can be caused by either the specific fabric or the digital printing method itself. Moreover, since the garment in the photo my client sent me (a fashion scarf) is very sheer, my next thought was that the transparency of the fabric might have contributed to the problem. After all, my client had noted that polyester chiffon reduces the saturation of a color.

The implications of these questions are twofold:

  1. For the next sample, if my client can create an art file with an acceptable color percentage build that matches her Pantone color bridge, she will be able to communicate her wishes to the fabric printer. There will be no question as to the goal. It will then be up to the vendor to match the color with the specific digital custom printing technology and the specific fabric substrate—or to explain why this cannot be done. A printed color swatch will eliminate any miscommunication or guesswork.
  2. Furthermore, a dye sublimation printed color matched to a printed swatchbook will remove the fabric substrate and the inkset and printing process as variables. If a problem arises, my client will know that the problem is not due to the equipment or fabric.

Viewing Color in Different Light

One property of color is that it looks different in different light. Fabric printing is no different from printing ink on paper. So I encouraged my client to review the printed sample (and any revised samples) under a number of different lighting conditions.

I noted the difference between incandescent light (now called the Edison light), fluorescent, LED, and sunlight. I noted that printers use 5000 Kelvin light (which is the color “temperature” of sunlight) as a standard for the pressroom and specifically for viewing booths.

I also told my client a story about my fiancee’s and my recent trip to the fabric store for felt for an art project for our autistic students. When we had chosen a bolt of a neutral white felt, it changed color slightly as we carried the fabric past each ceiling light on the way to the cutting table. For this reason, I noted that the particular color my client had chosen may have taken on a color shift due to the light, and perhaps this may have been worsened by its already being a desaturated color.

So the take-away was that my client should use standard lighting and note any color shifts.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

Here are some thoughts:

  1. If your proof is not right, be grateful. It’s better than having the final printed run not match your expectations. Learn from the problem. Identify the cause by separating out all the variables.
  2. Never choose a color on the monitor. Remember that in the moment you’re creating an art file it’s easy to forget this rule. It’s human nature. So make sure you go back after you have created the design and check the colors against a printed swatch book.
  3. Keep in mind that printing ink on paper via offset lithography, printing toner on paper via digital printing (electrophotography), and printing ink or dye on fabric all share things in common. The substrate will affect the printed color. In addition, the custom printing process itself may affect the printed color. Regardless, the final arbiter is the appearance of the color itself. Does it look right to you—and perhaps a few other people as well?
  4. There is no better way for three people to agree on a color than to use a printed color swatch book. Unless you’re doing work for the Internet only (which creates color with light rather than ink), use a recently printed PMS book, CMYK build book, or PMS to CMYK bridge. Even though they’re expensive, they are well worth the price.
  5. Keep in mind that no two people will see color exactly alike. Color is a function of light and the human eye. Women see color better than men (which is true, not sexist). So, again, use a color swatch book to communicate your color needs.

Book Printing: Make Plans for the Delivery Early

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

A husband and wife publishing team to which I broker printing just sent a 5.5” x 8.5” perfect-bound book to press. Even though they haven’t even seen a proof, now is the time to consider delivery. Now, not at the end of the process.

Why? Most importantly, the printer will need to make some decisions regarding packaging the finished books and labelling the cartons and freight pallets (skids). The sooner the book printer has the delivery information, the more immediate and more accurate the results will be. Doing all of this at the end of the printing process risks major screw ups.

What the Book Printer Will Need to Know

I just found an old delivery form these specific clients and I had produced for a print book they had published several years ago. I sent the spreadsheet back to my clients just now, suggesting that they revise it for the new book. Here are some of the issues it addressed.

Number of Copies, Destination, Carrier, Due Date

This is a list of the categories on the spreadsheet. It pretty much speaks for itself. It actually prompts the client to think of all possible deliveries. In my client’s case there are two book distributors involved, so there are two main destinations for the bulk of the 1,500-copy press run of the 5.5” x 8.5” perfect-bound book.

However, there are also deliveries to my clients’ publishing office, and this year there will be an additional delivery to their assistant’s house. The benefit of a spreadsheet like the one I’m describing is that you can update it as needed, and all of the information will be in one place. In my case, I find that reviewing such a spreadsheet periodically during the job will jog my memory regarding additional delivery information that must be communicated to the book printer.

“Carrier” is an important line item for each delivery because in the case of my client, one book distributor prefers to send their own truck to pick up the books. The other book distributor doesn’t care how the books come, so I usually leave it up to the book printer. More specifically, the sample distribution spreadsheet I have asks the printer to ship via the “best way.” This means that he is responsible for finding the fastest and least expensive option and ensuring accurate delivery. Therefore, my client doesn’t need to worry about freight contracts.

As a point of information, when you read a printer’s contract, you will in some cases see the words “FOB printer’s plant” or “FOB destination.” The former means the printer’s liability ends before your freight carrier picks up the books at the printer’s plant (for delivery to you). The latter means the printer is responsible for shipping the books (as well as for their safety) until the books have been delivered to you.

Addresses and Contact People

This also seems self-explanatory. However, most book distributors, warehouses, and fulfillment houses must know in advance when a delivery will arrive. Think about it. Even if only one skid of print books will be arriving, unloading the truck and moving the skid into place in the warehouse requires time and labor, so advance notice is a must. Therefore, complete addresses, contact people, and phone numbers are essential. Anyone involved in moving the (usually) heavy delivery will be grateful.

Site-Specific Information

When you’re crafting a delivery spreadsheet such as this, after the general information noted above, it’s important to include all of the requirements provided by each delivery address.

For personal homes and office buildings the specifications are often simpler (but harder to actually achieve). For instance, if the truck driver must break down the skid and carry a number of boxes up an elevator to an office (or into a personal residence), it’s important to note on your delivery form that you need “inside delivery.”

Inside delivery is the alternative to a “dock-to-dock” delivery. A dock-to-dock delivery is much easier, since your freight carrier is moving a much heavier, shrink-wrapped skid (or several skids) of books using a motorized pallet mover. A wrapped skid also actually protects the cartons and their contents, which can be more easily damaged if the cartons are shipped without being “palletized.”

The motorized pallet mover allows you to lift and move multiple hundreds of pounds of print books all at once instead of breaking down a skid of books into individual cartons. An inside delivery is more expensive than a dock-to-dock delivery. Therefore, you need to note this on the manifest you are creating.

Other site-specific information involves the labelling of the pallets of books. This information usually includes the publisher’s name, title, ISBN number, number of cartons, number of books per carton, carton weight, etc. The information may need to be both in “readable form” and in “barcode form.”

In addition to the labelling of the individual cartons (and the individual skids), your book distributor will probably request a delivery form that summarizes the entire order.

In some cases, the distributor will also have physical specifications, such as the weight of the cartons, overall weight of the pallets, and even the height, width, and length of the individual pallets. (All of this depends on the storage space within the warehouse and the requirements of equipment used to lift and move the pallets.)

Your print book distributor, fulfillment house, or warehouse will provide a list of requirements, which you can then send to your book printer. These are firm requirements. You will incur an extra charge if they are not followed. Although this sounds arbitrary, it actually facilitates inventory management, which ultimately benefits you, the publisher.

The Take-Away from this List of Requirements

Ultimately, the easier you make it for your book distributor to receive, store, inventory, and fulfill requests for your print book, the cheaper your overall cost will be. In addition, the control of the inventory will be more precise and therefore more accurate. You will know exactly how many books you have in storage at any given time, and your customers will get the right books in good condition in a timely manner.

To achieve this goal, your book distributor has developed effective guidelines, which will involve your printer’s preparation of the delivery (packaging and labelling). Therefore, the earlier you can get the required information from the distributor to the printer, the better. And the more lines of communication you can provide between the printer, the shipping carrier, and the delivery point, the smoother and more accurate the delivery process will be.

So it is prudent to start early crafting a single comprehensive delivery spreadsheet to which all interested parties can refer.

Commercial Printing: Paper Choices for Direct Mail

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

I received two pieces of direct mail this week that piqued my interest. In fact, I decided to keep them, and not just for this article. I wanted to think about why I found them unique.

Ironically, as more and more people have moved their marketing efforts from physical, paper based commercial printing to the more ephemeral Internet, those direct mail marketers who have stayed the course have found less competition for the reader’s attention.

In many cases, there’s less mail in the mailbox. What this means is that you have fewer pieces to review. But studies have shown that people still do take time to read their physical direct mail. In contrast, emails seem to be increasing every day, so I personally find myself reading fewer and fewer of the promotional ones. I look for a reason to delete them since there are always so many.

In light of this situation, I received the two physical mail pieces this week, and it was actually the paper choices more than the design that caught my attention.

Again, ironically, it was one of the major differences between email marketing and physical, print marketing that made these two pieces stand out. After all, you can’t touch a website or an email.

Paper Choices: The First Fold-over Card

The first piece is marketing collateral for a bank. The folded size is 6” x 9”, but it opens up into a 6”x 18” flat size, which in itself is unique. It feels big, and its dramatically lit images and ink solids with reversed type echo the feeling of space and abundance.

But what makes it really memorable is the feel of the custom printing paper stock.

Keep in mind that two functional (and useful) characteristics of paper are its weight and its surface. In this case the paper feels heavy (probably 80# cover), but this weight is doubled, since it is a fold-over card. The first thing you feel is the double thickness of the paper before you open the front flap upward to reveal the tall and narrow format.

Secondly, the commercial printing vendor coated the entire card–both sides—with soft-touch UV (or possibly reticulated varnish). It has a rough but consistent pattern, and this makes it feel soft as I run my finger across its surface. Combined with the thickness of the custom printing stock, the slightly uneven surface of the paper makes holding the marketing piece a tactile experience. The designer used one of the main benefits of paper—its physical, tactile nature—to its best advantage.

One reason I would probably guess that this is soft-touch UV coating (in addition to the soft feel) is the contrast between the soft background and a few items highlighted with a spot gloss effect (also probably a UV coating). The gloss coating covers the logo and some of the reversed type. Under a bright light, the contrast between the matte, pebbly finish covering most of the printed product and the smooth gloss effect over selected large headlines and the logo makes the display type and logo stand out more than usual. Under bright light they have a high-gloss reflective sheen.

All of this affects the viewer long before the large photos, page design, and text of the marketing piece. These qualities happen to be stellar as well (a simple but bold design reflected in the typeface, reversed type, and dramatically lit and well-balanced images). However, the very first thing the reader notices, upon pulling this marketing piece out of the envelope, is the texture and feel of the paper, a subtle element of design that works on a subconscious level. The reader may not consciously know what is going on, but the feel and weight of the paper are working their magic upon her or him.

Paper Choices: The Second Fold-over Card

Interestingly enough, this is a fold-over card, too. But it opens from side to side. (It is horizontal rather than vertical.) So the effect is more traditional. However, the paper is a very thick, uncoated and blue white stock. So before you open the fold-over card, the paper feels especially heavy. And this registers as “important information” when you pull it out of the envelope. It’s “weighty,” so to speak.

The uncoated surface of the paper combined with the full-bleed photos on all four panels gives a soft, subdued feel to this marketing piece, which is an introduction to a new series of town homes near my fiancee’s and my house.

The front panel shows about ten of the townhouses, all touching, at dusk. The sky is a subdued blue (as is the headline type, which is slightly darker), but you can see the reflection of the sunset in the windows, and some of the house lights have been turned on. The touches of orange sunlight in the cover image provide a nice warm contrast to the predominantly cool colors of the overall image. And the softness of the image at day’s end is consistent with both the soft feel of the uncoated paper and the softness of the printed image (in contrast to an image printed on a gloss or even a dull coated commercial printing sheet).

Inside the fold-over card the solid ink areas and reverse type provide an austere counterpoint to the large image of a kitchen in one of the row houses.

Overall, the effect of the marketing piece is one of substance (due to the thickness of the paper) with a casual, relaxed flair (due to the soft, uncoated paper surface).

Paper Choices: A Thick Business Card

My fiancee just handed me a business card from a fine artist. It’s actually perfect to round out this series of marketing pieces enhanced by shrewd custom printing paper choices.

There are three elements that distinguish this business card from its peers. First, it is thicker than usual. It is 14pt. For comparison, that’s just under 120# cover stock. To put this in perspective, when I was a graphic designer I used to specify 80# cover stock for business cards. So this paper feels much heavier and rigid. Like the two fold-over cards noted above, this business card has substance and (psychological as well as physical) weight.

One side of the card is a montage of the artist’s paintings, many of which are at sunset, so the contrast between the oranges and reds of the sun in the clouds works nicely against the dark silhouettes of the buildings. The colors are dramatic even in this small size with this many images in the montage. You don’t really see the individual paintings as much as their unifying color scheme.

On the front of the card is the artist’s website URL, hand-written in three lines (white reversed out of a black background that bleeds on all sides). So it’s simple. One side has the web contact information, and one side has a smattering of the artist’s images.

And because of the thickness of the commercial printing paper stock (and its rigidity), the overall effect is one of importance: an importance conveyed by the paper choice even before the reader can consciously address the graphic design or the marketing message.


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