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Magazine printing: 5 minutes with… Chris Ferrari-Wills

For many publishers, the printed magazine remains their flagship offering. In challenging times, what can they do to get the best possible return on their print investment? We ask The Manson Group’s Chris Ferrari-Wills.

By Chris Ferrari-Wills

Magazine printing: 5 minutes with… Chris Ferrari-Wills
Chris Ferrari-Wills talks publishers through the printing process on a site visit.

Q: What can publishers and printers do to further enhance the look and feel of their printed magazine?

A: Choosing the right paper stock is central to creating a visually impactful magazine. In particular, consider the cover weight as this very much sets the tone for your title and is less cost sensitive. In terms of material costs, a 200gsm cover versus a 300gsm isn’t as big a step as its feel might suggest.

The cover is the first impression readers have of a magazine. Use captivating imagery, bold typography, and striking colours to grab attention at point of delivery.

Adding special finishes can add a tactile element to the magazine. Gloss or matte coatings, spot UV varnishes, embossing, debossing, or foil all add interest and stimulate interaction. These techniques can highlight certain design elements, add texture, and create a sense of sophistication.

Select fonts that are visually pleasing and appropriate for the magazine’s style and content. Well-chosen typography can enhance readability and contribute to the overall design aesthetic.

Use high-quality, high-resolution images to ensure sharpness and clarity. Blurry or pixelated images can detract from the overall quality of the magazine and can deter buyers or potential advertisers.

Consider incorporating interactive elements into the magazine, such as QR codes, stickers, augmented reality (AR) features, or unique fold-outs / dividers. These interactive elements can provide a more immersive experience for the reader. Embrace these opportunities to draw them in to your brand.

Remember, the specific enhancements will depend on the target audience, budget, and overall vision for the magazine. Engaging thoroughly with your print service provider (PSP) can help ensure that these enhancements are deployed effectively.

Q: What advice do you give to publishers who are reviewing their paper choices?

A: Think about your audience and who you are selling to. Will a change have an effect on your audience or on your advertisers? Get white paper dummies made – your PSP should offer them free of charge so that you can test market the proposed revisions to key stakeholders.

Would the overall item weight move you under or over the next postage item bracket weight incurring unnecessary charges?

Bear in mind that once you’ve reduced your paper weight as an established magazine, it’s more difficult to revert upwards. This leaves the door open for competitors to emerge offering what might be perceived as a higher quality product, thereby encroaching on your territory.

Always talk to your PSP. There are often more options than you think with different types of papers available.

Consistency is the key so if you do make a change, you need to see it through.

Q: What are forward looking publishers and printers doing to improve the sustainability of their operations?

A: This is a continually evolving picture. Look at all parts of the business on a granular level. Drill down to the smallest detail to see if any part of what you are doing can be improved and at what cost. For example, we use paper tape on all boxing as opposed to plastic. A minor detail but still it goes to show the lengths we can all go to. Renewable energy is also something which is relatively easy to opt for.

Speak to everyone in your supply chain. Everyone will have some improvement to offer, however small. Having long term goals to meet targets is important, but so is simply taking opportunities where they present themselves.

It’s important to remember everyone needs to still make a profit. We have found that by making improvements and hitting goals we have actually improved efficiencies and processes and created a positive contribution to profit and a reduction to our footprint.

Q: For mailed copies, what trends are you seeing with regards to plastic and paper wrapping?

A: Consider everything – get your partners to outline the full range of their offer because no single option is perfect, paperwrap, polywrap, naked, or envelopes; all options are available, and all have certain benefits.

Pre-printed paper wrap is certainly a hot topic, perhaps because it’s the newest option on the market, ideally suited for bigger run magazines and catalogues. Smaller run publishers can consider envelopes which work as a great option to add a bespoke element to your magazine.

Q: What scope is there for publishers to reduce costs further without impacting print quality?

A: If I only had a magic wand! The magazine is your standard-bearer so unless you reduce print run or page count, your options will be limited. Shifting from laminates to UV cover finishes will help marginally. I am often asked if we can do it cheaper but not lose the quality. The crude answer is, yes, but you need to print fewer copies!

Q: When a publisher visits their printer, how can it benefit the ongoing relationship?

A: Simply put, when you visit a printco, you have their entire resource base available immediately! Whether the focus is on people, process or materials, all the possibilities can be explained in thorough detail across the entire publishing team to improve not only empathy and efficiency but also to stimulate creativity and visualisation.

Q: What’s in the pipeline from The Manson Group?

A: We will be redoubling our efforts to ensure that we present a responsible, sustainable choice for content owners who are mindful of the environmental and social impact of their production processes. We’re excited by the ever-evolving choices presented to us by our partners. The aggregation of these ‘small’ opportunities is often more impactful than the traditional step changes that a printco like us would have traditionally made and greater focus on these broader aspects will be a key ingredient in our future success.

About us

The Manson Group produces publications for some of the UK’s smallest, and largest publishers. Established by our current owners in 1969, and based in Hertfordshire, we are setting our sights on the future by investing in a number of green initiatives, placing sustainability at the heart of our future development.


Tel: 01727 848 440


Twitter: @mansongroup