Re: Print Services Recommendations

Subject: Re: Print Services Recommendations
From: "Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 16:09:53 -0400

I'm sorry, Lyda, you're only allowed to ask one question at a time ;-)

Okay, let's see what we can do for you...

The first thing you need to know is how many copies of your 65-page book you are going to print. If you are printing fewer than 100 B/W books, either Docutech or a copier will serve you well. If you are printing fewer than 500 copies of a book that includes some color pages, again, Docutech or a color copier.

If you are exceeding either of those lower limits, you should get quotes from offset printers and compare with the cost of the other two methods. If you are printing thousands of copies, you definitely want to do them offset. But at this level, you should consider designing the book for the medium rather than choosing the medium as an afterthought.

As for binding vs. binders...

Binding is more expensive for short runs for the same reason printing is more expensive for short runs--setup costs. For long runs, I think you will find that perfect binding is cost-effective. (In fact, for 65 pp--actually 68 pp--I'd probably opt for saddle-stitching, which would be cheaper still.)

With regard to distinguishing good printers from bad printers...

Experienced writers do nothing of the kind, at least not any writers I know. Experienced production editors make these distinctions, though. Start with recommendations from colleagues. Then tour the printers' physical plants to determine what sort of equipment they have, how much of the work they do in-house, and so forth. Ask to see sample of jobs they are proud of.

Another approach is to work with a print broker. A print broker is paid a commission by the printer, so in theory the job doesn't cost you any more. A broker has access to a variety of printers who specialize in different kinds of work and have different kinds of equipment. The broker takes responsibility for overall job quality (but you are responsible for approving proofs, of course).

Tales from the trenches...

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, at least once, probably twice. Plan for it. Budget for it. Stock up on medications for it.

Uncle Dick

"Lyda Woods" wrote:

>I'm looking for recommendations for good print services to print my 65 page
>User Guide at a reasonable rate. I would like to understand better the
>differences/similarities in the following areas:
>b/w and color docutech vs. offset vs. photocopy
>binding vs. binders (or why is binding more expensive than binders!?)
>Also, how do experienced writers distinguish good printers from not so good
>ones? What are the tales from the trenches?
>I'm based in San Francisco - is it best to use a local printer?

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