Print Discussion Pt. 3 – Who?

The webmaster here again. Last time I talked about how to print things (albeit at a 10,000 ft. level). This time I am going to talk about letting someone else do the heavy work. Once again, my opinions, your mileage may vary.

Questions to answer:

  • Are they trustworthy?
    • You are sending something off for duplication. You want it only duplicated for you… not for their own purposes.
  • Do they make what you want?
    • Are the papers and inks up to the standards you need?
      • They should be very up front about the papers and inks to be used
      • They should be able to tell you about lightfastness and any moisture resistance issues.
    • After all that is why they are going to get our money.
  • Do they make it in the sizes you want?
    • You will probably have to be somewhat flexible about being in a standard paper size, but you should be able to come up with a few options.
  • Do they work in a quantity you can work with?
    • Some places do small batches at reasonable costs
    • I love the art Laura puts out, but I know there is not enough of a market to be ordering prints by the pallet.
  • Are they competitive on price?
    • Now, I am not saying go cheap. I am saying you should make sure their price is neither too high, or too low. After all if you are paying so much less, how are they actually making money?
  • Are there any hidden costs?
    • Check your shipping and handling costs
    • Are there additional design costs?
  • Do they work in a format you can deal with?
    • I found a few sites which can not take popular formats or images of sufficient size.
  • Can they provide material when you need it?
    • Some shops have very long waits for smaller orders as they are lower  priority items done when the press would otherwise be idle.

Going Local

Unfortunately I don’t have much advice on this subject at the moment. There are many places where you might run across a convenient local printer who can do your work at a reasonable cost.  from my experience, if you find one, go with them. Over time they could become great partners for you, providing advice and helping solve problems. When I had a local shop, they were great. Sadly these shops tend to be replaced by larger chains like Kinkos.

The internet
In this age of the internet it is amazing the services available to a small business. There was a time when there were large minimum quantities for an order. It would mean that the minimum sunk costs for anything were reasonably high. Now, not so much. There is certainly an economy of scale available if you make larger quantities, but a single copy doesn’t have to break the bank.

Since you are not working with a local place, you are assuming some of the risks. If the site in question has samples, order them. Often they are a couple bucks, or have a refund on the first order. If you like them, great you have a possible place to get your prints! If you hate them, hold on to them so you know not to send things to them. It is amazing how good a price can look before you realize the quality it bought you.

I want to avoid any actual service reviews in this article since I should be generic. I imagine I will come up with some reviews in good time.

Next time: What to print.