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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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Archive for the ‘Catalog Printing’ Category

Catalog Printing: IKEA and Fossil Integrate Print and Digital

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

I read a short article yesterday about digital enhancements IKEA has incorporated into its 2013 print catalog, plus IKEA’s strong commitment to maintaining a print catalog presence along with its digital marketing initiatives. What I find interesting is that in an era of dour predictions forecasting the death of custom printing, some avenues for print seem to actually be growing. Here is an example of one: the print catalog.

IKEA’s Cross Channel Marketing Work

I have included two quotes of interest from PrintCAN, 13 August 2012 (“IKEA adds digital enhancements to printed catalogue”):

“The printed catalogue remains the cornerstone of our marketing campaign globally.”

“As we enter new markets, the [catalog] production will increase.”

While restating their commitment to the printed catalog, which is actually delivered to approximately 210 million homes around the world (according to PrintCAN), IKEA is expanding the capabilities of the catalog and integrating the print version with IKEA’s digital presence.

Specifically, IKEA provides a downloadable app, which allows one to point a smartphone at a print catalog page and “access films about IKEA products, experience 3D models, look behind closed doors with an x-ray function or change the curtains and get creative” (Madeline Löwenborg-Frick, public relations manager for IKEA Canada).

In addition, the catalog itself is available in digital format at IKEA’s website.

IKEA and its marketing team (ad agency McCann New York) have focused on “enhancing [the catalog] with technology and storytelling.”

More Than Just Anecdotal Evidence

While one story does not confirm a trend, I will say that I believe IKEA exerts a certain amount of heft within the retail furniture market due to its global reach, so I believe this short article from PrintCAN is provocative. I would add to this anecdotal evidence my reading in marketing periodicals provided by the US Post Office as well as various trade journals I receive, all of which confirm this trend.

Still More Anecdotal Evidence: the Fossil Catalog

I’m speaking now as a print buyer, a graphic designer, and one who appreciates consumer leather goods.

I went shopping in the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth, MD, last week. Since I like watches and leather briefcases, I visited Fossil. When I had checked out the store, I wanted to take home something to remember the shopping experience and perhaps use to get more information on various items. So I reached for the stack of print catalogs. The thick matte paper stock, the consistent chocolate hues that carried through the magazine, and the alternating lifestyle photos and product shots kept Fossil’s brand and the quality I had experienced in the store (store design, ambience, service, and quality products) at the top of my mind.

Next I went to the Fossil website and saw the same overall color scheme, the same typefaces, and images of the same models I had seen in the catalog. I could look up items that interested me, and the combined effect of the Fossil outlet store, print catalog, and online experience reinforced a sense I had that Fossil goods would all be stylish and well made, and that the Fossil company itself would be knowledgeable, reliable, and courteous.

I know all of this is marketing finesse. In fact, I know that it is effective marketing because I understand the nuances. I know the entire experience is crafted by savvy marketing professionals. But I also have seen and used the products, and they don’t disappoint.

What This Really Means

What this really means that a marketing team can create a synergistic effect through multiple media. A retail establishment can position itself as a provider of quality goods by coordinating its store design, its online experience, and its print catalog. Each experience augments the others.

I see that Fossil has included on the back cover of the catalog three icons: one for Facebook, one for Twitter, and one for Pinterest. They’re working all the digital avenues. I don’t see a QR code, but that may appear in the next issue of the print catalog.

Clearly Fossil, like IKEA, has seen value not only in oneline marketing but also in the legacy marketing device: the printed catalog.

Printing Companies Can Stay Relevant by Shifting Their Approach to Marketing

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A close friend recently gave me a book called Disrupting the Future. Written by Joseph W. Webb, Ph.D., and Richard M. Romano, this book proposes ways commercial printers can continue to be relevant as ink on paper becomes only one of many channels for communication.

The book discusses a shift in focus from offset printing and binding as an end in themselves to custom printing as a medium for communication. The vehicles for this communication will expand from offset lithography to include variable data digital printing, digital large-format printing, web to print, PURLs, and social media.

To stay relevant, commercial printers will need to become consultants and brokers as well as custom printing vendors. They will become experts in the various media and will understand how clients can leverage these options to improve their ROI (return on investment). If these commercial printers have in-house offset or digital equipment to provide the printed products their clients need, so much the better. If not, they will outsource and coordinate this work. They will become trusted advisors, helping clients devise and execute the strategies to grow their businesses.

Making Adjustments in Marketing Strategy

Disrupting the Future addresses the shift in a number of relationships people have with media of all kinds. These include Permanence, Portability, ROI, Intent, Cross Media, Reference Point, Media Selection, Personalization, and Direct Response. Let’s discuss them individually, and consider how offset and digital custom printing can still be relevant.

  1. Permanence: Webb and Romano distinguish between the past, in which a marketer or vendor printed information (let’s say a directory or catalog) and then delivered some copies and stored the rest for future distribution. The information was located in a warehouse or other storage facility. Now information is immediately accessible online. That said, according to the trade journals I have read, there is still a direct correlation between increased consumer purchasing activity and distribution of print catalogs. Apparently, more people buy when they have access to both a print catalog and a website rather than just a website.
  2. Portability: People used to take a printed product with them (such as a catalog). They could read it in the subway on the way to work. Now they want to connect on multiple devices, according to Disrupting the Future. Actually, this can include a print catalog, as well as information on a tablet or a smart phone. The issue is less about the medium and more about the ability of a marketer to carry a message in a consistent way across the various media. Will the reader see a consistent presentation of the brand in the print catalog, on the smartphone, on the tablet, at home on the desktop computer, or on the digital large-format printing of an inkjet bus wrap?
  3. ROI: Webb and Romano note that in the past it was possible to easily match the cost of the printed information to the revenue it generated. However, today’s multi-channel marketing initiatives and information dissemination don’t always show a clear connection between cost and return on investment. For instance, using a Twitter feed and a website landing page along with a print catalog may increase sales dramatically when compared to an Internet-only, or print-only, approach. However, the incremental sales amount due to the social media component can’t always be easily determined.
  4. Intent: Now marketers “lure” prospective clients. In the past they “nudged” them. People are inundated with information. They have learned to tune it out. They want to be informed, not pushed to buy. They want your information to be immediately available for them to reach out and grab.
  5. Cross Media: Disrupting the Future notes that successful messages (persuasive or informative) are now “parallel” rather than “serial.” In the past, a firm would mail a print catalog so many times a year, and then roll out a print advertising campaign. Now the product information is simultaneously available through multiple media: on kiosks and printed signage when the prospective client visits a mall, online when he or she clicks through an Internet advertisement, or in print when he or she reads a catalog. To be relevant, all these parallel media must deliver a congruent message and consistent information. As Webb and Romano note, success hinges on creating an effective and congruent marketing strategy.
  6. Reference Point: In the past, a successful marketer presented authoritative information on why the prospective client should buy a product or service. Now a successful marketer provides a “gateway to context.” That is, according to Webb and Romano’s book, a marketer offers both information and a link to the opinions of others just like the potential buyer. Marketing has become a “dialogue between users.”
  7. Media Selection: Now a marketer will saturate the media with information from which potential buyers can “pull” what is relevant to them individually. In the past, marketers tightly controlled images, ads, and information. For a marketer to omit a channel (for example, to only advertise online and not provide a print catalog) can actually detract from sales.
  8. Personalization: Disrupting the Future notes that marketers in the past would segment a potential client base, sending specific information to targeted groups based on demographic information. This information was often outdated or useless to a certain number of recipients. Now, by combining the Internet with variable data printing, marketers can provide information that is current and pertinent to each prospective client. A potential buyer can receive a print catalog that has been personalized to his or her tastes and interests, and the information delivered online can match his or her prior Internet searches.
  9. Direct Response: Webb and Romano distinguish between “groundswell” and “targeted from above.” Sales prospects now reach out for, absorb, and respond to information and promotions based on their knowledge and interests in an organic, grassroots manner. As Disrupting the Future makes clear, people no longer tolerate being “herded to specific locations or actions” by an overarching authority.

Custom Printing: Adding Marketing Cards to a Magazine or Catalog

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

When you read a magazine or catalog, you’re thinking about content: the message it imparts, the articles, photos, and perhaps even the ads. When the publisher of the magazine looks at an issue, he or she must think about ways to pay for producing the magazine. This funding may include ads other companies have paid to insert in the magazine, but it may also include marketing items for the magazine itself. Subscription offers fall into this category, and there are several ways to add these promotional cards to a print catalog or a magazine.

Bind-in Card

The bind-in card lends itself to either a saddle stitched or perfect bound magazine. Bind-in cards are business postcards printed on a card stock of acceptable thickness to the Post Office, allowing potential subscribers to mail the cards back to the publisher without custom envelopes.

If your magazine is perfect bound, the card will be glued between magazine signatures. If your magazine is saddle stitched, the bind-in card can be stitched either in the center of the book or between signatures. In this case, half of the bind-in card will be visible within a page-spread before the center of the magazine, and half will be visible within a page-spread after the center of the magazine. (That is, the card will have two parts, either a business reply card and an unprinted tag, or two complete business reply cards, one for the front of the magazine and one for the back.)

Blow-in Card

If your magazine is either perfect bound or saddle stitched with a sufficient number of pages to keep the cards from falling out, you can blow in your business reply marketing cards. Finishing equipment at your printer blows the cards randomly between pages during the binding process. If the magazine is not thick enough for the weight of the pages to keep the blow-in cards in place, they will fall out. Unlike bind-in cards, blow-in cards cannot be precisely positioned. If you want the cards to fall between particular pages to complement advertisements, you should choose the bind-in option.


A bangtail is a hybrid. It combines a business reply envelope with an application of some sort. Usually bound into the center spread of the magazine, a bangtail is removed from the staples, and the application form is detached from the envelope prior to its completion and mailing. (You have probably seen a bangtail used in a catalog as an order form.)

Tip-on or Bind-on Cover Wrap

Occasionally you will see a subscription offer printed on an exterior cover wrap (a wrap that goes around the printed cover as though it were an additional cover). Often it is printed on an uncoated card stock.

Printing companies can attach cover wraps to saddle stitched publications using the binding staples holding the magazine together. The wraps can either extend the entire length of the front and back cover, or they can cover only a portion of the magazine. Printing companies can also attach cover wraps to the front cover only, near the bind edge, using fugitive glue (a substance similar to rubber cement).

On a perfect bound magazine, business printing vendors can add a cover wrap using fugitive glue. Since there are no staples with which to affix the cover wrap, printing companies can place a strip of fugitive glue on the front of the magazine cover near the bind edge (for attachment to the front cover only) or on the spine itself if the wrap extends across both the front and back covers.

What makes fugitive glue an ideal substance for such a wrap is its ability to be easily removed. You can peel off the cover wrap, peel the fugitive glue off the wrap, and then complete and mail the business reply card portion of the wrap—all without damaging the card.

Talk with custom printing services you trust to decide which of these options will fill your promotional needs and fit your budget. Catalog printing vendors and magazine printers will be your best sources of information.


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