HOW TO CHOOSE A CATALOG AND BOOKLET PRINTER THAT BRINGS YOU EXTREME VALUE

Friday June 21, 2019

 

There is a difference in who prints your Catalog or Booklet, and you need to know how to find the right printer for your end product’s appearance and the price that you pay.

JUST FOR THE RECORD

There is no difference between a Catalog and a Booklet when it comes to what they are.  They are word preferences used interchangeably like the use of “Soda” & “Pop”.  Catalogs and Booklets are the same thing.

FIRST THINGS FIRST
The Five most important things to consider when using a Catalog or Booklet to promote your products or services are as follows and in no specific order of importance:
 
1) Layout & Design
2) Wording
3) Photos
4) Paper
5) Price

 

 

PRICES CAN VARY WIDELY FOR PRINTING CATALOGS & BOOKLETS

In this communication, we are going to assume that the first four Items (Layout & Design, Wording, Photos and Paper have already been completed and your Catalog or Booklet is ready to get printed.  Now all you need to do is to find a printer who is going to give you a great looking end product at a fair price.

The best way to examine what sets printers apart from each other is to understand how they physically produce catalogs in their production facilities and get that product out to the consumers who buy your products and/or services.

To get the absolute best “Bang for your Buck” when choosing a Printer to produce and distribute your Catalog or Booklet, you need to find a Print Production facility that meets the following criteria as close as possible and the reasons why:

 

 

Look for a Print Production facility that:


A) Understands your Digital File Submissions.
B) Can print your Catalog or Booklet with as few touches as possible.
C) Has various Finishing Equipment possibilities.
D) Has a Mailing Department to handle distribution
E) Has great internal communication



UNDERSTANDING YOUR DIGITAL FILES

 
It is very important that the printer you choose is able to convert your supplied digital files to the proper CMYK Channels for printing, and that all elements of the design are actually going to print as they were designed.  Make sure that what you sign off on as your “Official Proof” to go to the print production stage, has all the elements you expect to print as you designed the Catalog or Booklet.  Make sure that your chosen printer has the latest in Pre-flight software and Direct To Plate (DTP) to ensure that you are getting the correct and optimum image sent to the Printing Press.

 

 

It is also very important to make sure that your printer has either CIP3 or CIP4 data capabilities to be able to send the same files that were used to make your plates for printing on press, to be able to send that CIP3 or CIP4 data to the printing press, so that CMYK ink ranges and density are properly printed as soon as sheets come off the press.  This data collection sent to the press will reduce paper, time and ink costs in your initial print production make-ready.   CIP3 or CIP4 is an international standards association whose mission is to bring together a universal adoption of automation in the printing industry.  CIP3 or CIP4 ties together software and systems vendors, printers, educators, publishers, consultants, integrators and distributors to define the standards that support printing automation and education globally.  The difference between CIP3 and CIP4 is simply just an upgrade preference, similar to operating system upgrades going from OS 8 to OS 10.  Some print shops want the new features for certain production elements and some do not, so it is purely a shop by shop preference.

 

 

It is also important to make sure your printer sends the same CIP3 or CIP4 data to the bindery for finishing purposes.  A print production facility who is using the gathered data up front in pre-press throughout its operation will be the most efficient in producing your work in production and also in finished end product quality than those who do not.  In the finishing stages of a printed Catalog or Booklet in which folding or cutting is involved, the data sent to that bindery department’s Guillotine Cutter or Folders is pre-programed to show where cuts and folds need to be made.  This reduces set up times and human intervention in the mathematical formulas used for set up in cutting and folding used in the finishing of the Catalog or Booklet end product.

 

 

FEWER TOUCHES EQUATE TO LESS COST & BETTER QUALITY

 
If at all possible try to choose a Printer who is printing your catalogs in 1 Pass -vs- 2 Pass Printing for many different reasons.  This may be the absolute, most critical component when choosing a print production facility when it comes to quality control and cost.  When seeking out a printer for your Catalog or Booklet production ask what type of printing equipment that they utilize and whether they are producing your Catalog or Booklet in 1 Pass or 2 Pass printing.

1 Pass printing is the print production process of paper going through a printing press only once to yield finished paper/sheets that is printed on both sides.  Also known as “Perfecting”.  If you can find a print production facility that has 8 or 10 color perfecting presses, you are going to ensure a better quality end product, and you should get better pricing as well.

 

 

In 1 Pass/Perfecting print production the paper starts out on a tall skid about 50” or so high and is placed into the feeder of the press.  Once the press is engaged to start feeding paper/press sheets, the sheets travel through the first 4 color unit CMYK and 1 side of the press sheet is finished.  At that finished point the paper/sheet is automatically flipped over in what is called a “Perfecting” unit so that the sheet can then finish its journey through the press on the other side, and print the back side in 4 colors CMYK to then load on an empty skid at the delivery end of the press, stacked and ready to be taken to the bindery for the finishing stages of the Catalog or Booklet.  As you can see this results in a finished product that has no human touches other than loading paper in, and taking paper out of the press. 

In 2 Pass Printing, paper has to travel through the press to print 1 side in CMYK, and then is physically removed from the end of the press delivery and returned to the feeder to be reloaded  and run through to print the back side 4 colors CMYK.  This results in twice the amount of impressions and time that it takes to get a finished product.  In 2 pass printing there are other variables that are of concern, such as paper curl or water absorption causing issues in the second pass.  In 1 Pass/Perfecting, the potential negative variables disappear, as there is not a second pass exposing the sheet to these variable issues.

In short, if you can find a printer who has Perfecting presses, you are going to be much better off in quality and cost.  In the US only 1% of all printers have Perfecting presses, so finding a reputable printer with an 8 or 10 color press may force you to expand your reach to where that printer is located, but it will be well worth the effort to find such a facility.

 

 

FINISHING PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT FLEXIBILITY


Make sure that the print production facility that you choose has various types of Finishing Bindery Equipment based on the finished size, page count, and quantity of your end product.

There is a big difference in how a 12 Page Catalog of 3,500 quantity is finished -vs- a 48 page Catalog of 20,000 quantity.  These two examples are best suited to be finished on different types of equipment for cost reasons.  Make sure that your print production facility has the proper equipment to efficiently and cost effectively handle the job you have.  Many facilities do not have various options when it comes to finishing, so your job may go on a piece of equipment that has a longer set up, which then costs you more to have that part of your job done -vs- having the Catalogs or Booklets finished more efficiently on equipment more conducive to your Catalog or Booklet composition.

 

 

MAILING DEPARTMENT THAT KNOWS HOW TO GET CHEAPER DISTRIBUTION

 
Understanding the variables involved with Postage when mailing Catalogs or Booklets is critical in controlling your costs.  Basically, Catalogs and Booklets can be mailed folded in half or as a Flat (not folded to a smaller size).  The difference is huge when it comes to the cost for Postage, so make sure you are talking with your print production facility about this up front to make sure your design is done correctly for a Folded or Flat end product if it is going to be Direct Mailed.  The physical weight of the end product if going into the mail stream is also critical, so have a conversation with your print production facility’s Customer Service Rep (CSR) about lighter paper options when weight of the final product is a concern with postage costs.   Your CSR should be able to easily guide you in what makes sense when it comes to whether or not to fold or to leave as a Flat, and/or use lighter paper weight to stay below certain USPS weight guidelines to avoid unnecessary postage costs.  This alone can mean the difference in profits or losses in your Direct Mail Campaign.

 

 

INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN DEPARTMENTS AND CLIENT IS KEY TO LOWER COSTS

It is very critical that the print production facility that you choose has very exceptional communication not only with you the client, but that the internal departments of that production facility are talking to one another about your project to ensure your deadlines are met, and that you are getting the best cost for the end product.  From the initial CSR contact at the print production facility and down the line through the Pre-press Department, the Pressroom, the Finishing Bindery, and then the Mailing Department, there needs to be communication by all to ensure you get the best end product at a fair market price and done in a timely fashion to meet your deadline.

In summary, spend a little time up front in researching and finding a print production facility that truly suits the needs of your Catalog or Booklet project.  Using the suggestions and ideas in this communication should help you find that print production facility that best suites your needs when it comes to quality, timeliness, and pricing.

 

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