TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
I have had some experience with small-print runs recently, and it sounds
like a small run might be possible for you. In addition to all the great
advice you've gotten so far I would add:
1. For a small run (e.g., under 1000) ask about digital printing. I've
gotten great-looking stuff. Also ask if your printer can work with different
types, such as offset AND digital. Find out what the price breaks are.
2. Decide if you're comfortable with their integrity and skill.
3. Get proofs or samples of each page type EARLY and make sure they can deal
with your graphics. My printer blithely told me that he could deal with
DocuTech no problem. The output on my screen capture samples is horrible
though. I took the same file to Kinko's who printed a lovely copy. My
printer is trying to figure out why his output is so bad, but I'm afraid
he's lost interest in solving this problem as I haven't heard from him in
over a week.
4. Conclusion from #3 (and from several costly experiences as a first-time
home owner!): Trust the sales person only to a limited extent. They'll tell
you whatever you want to hear. Try to deal with someone who knows what the
machines can really do from first-hand knowledge instead of what he's heard
by the coffee machine.