Roger Pitt, Managing Director of Headley Brothers, writes: The simple answer is: no. Whilst none can deny the importance of keeping costs to a minimum, there are many factors that a publisher should consider when choosing a print partner. Can the printer provide a flexible plant list that will adapt with your titles? A printer with a portfolio spanning web, sheet-fed and digital printing services will be well-placed to cater cost-effectively for expanding and contracting print runs. Do they have finishing and mailing solutions in-house? Choosing a printer that can cater for all of your production needs will reduce the capacity for error, potentially save money, and streamline your schedules; whilst minimising your carbon footprint.
The quality of the product and service must be high. A printer should work to a quality standard, such as ISO9001, and have clear procedures in place for the efficient handling of queries and problems. Presses and proofing equipment should be colour-calibrated, conforming to a standard such as ISO12647. Selecting a printer with a lean production policy ensures that the focus will always be on providing customers with ultimate efficiency, but not at the expense of value. Selecting a company that has a contingency plan in its spread of machinery will ensure that options are available for timely production and delivery of your titles in the event of a machine break-down. Consider factors such as the printer’s operating hours and customer service set-up. A printer that operates 24 hours-a-day, with a dedicated account management structure and a strong focus on staff investment, will be best-placed to react flexibly and deliver the optimum service. A printer that can provide streamlined pre-media services will save a publisher valuable production hours. Look for a printer that offers online file delivery and approval services; enabling you to upload, pre-flight, and proof your pages within minutes.
What can the printer do in-house to help you to optimise your revenue streams? Some printers will enable a publisher to offer enhanced advertising options such as bellybands, bookmarks, and tip-ons. A printer with variable-data printing capabilities provides the opportunity to include personalised or regionalised advertising content, and monetise carrier sheets through the inclusion of personalised advertising; creating targeted advertising solutions that can be sold at a premium. Can the printer deliver magazine content across online channels? Selecting a supplier with these services can be a cost-effective way of creating an interactive edition that reaches the widest possible audience; enabling you to draw on the printer’s expertise whilst requiring little time investment on your part. Look for a printer that has a solid environmental policy in place, supported by accreditation such as ISO14001. A printer with FSC or PEFC accreditation provides assurance that paper from sustainable forests can be sourced and verified, if required. Selecting a printer with an in-house paper management team, who can source your paper or provide advice on doing so, can maximise your ‘green’ credentials and free-up your resources.
About Headley Brothers: Headley Brothers is an independent company, based in Ashford, Kent. Our award-winning solutions include: digital, web and sheet-fed printing services (from 1 to 350,000 copies), finishing and fulfilment services, mailing and subscriptions, online file delivery & approval, web-to-print, digital asset management, magazine apps and digital editions, design and web design services.
Andrew LG Jones, Chairman and Group Managing Director of Stephens & George Print Group, writes: No-one is naïve enough to think that price isn’t a major factor when purchasing print, as it will always be the primary driver. Therefore, it is essential that your print partner is equipped to produce your publication in a cost effective way. Publishers receive many quotes of similar pricing, however, there are other factors to consider and any potential print partner should look to impress on you their ability to make a difference to your business. It’s about added value, being creative together to produce a memorable product. A product that provides value for money and one that is achieved within budget, in a seamless manner and with an experienced and knowledgeable print partner that could help grow and develop your brand. However, if price is your number one priority, the pricing structure of your print partner needs to be stable and clear without any hidden costs, so that you can develop your long term planning without disruption. Consistency in supply of materials and services is important so you receive a consistent product at a consistent price.
Efficient processes are essential from your print partner. One area to focus on is file supply due to the possible variables that can be encountered. For example, an online portal allows the client to deliver files that are automatically checked, rendered and proofed in an instant, cutting down time and the environmental impact. Administration time needs to be considered. If a printer’s processes are well defined and executed, it cuts down on the costs for both partners. Many things could potentially go wrong from the moment a photographer presses click to the point when the magazine is opened. You need a print partner who really understands how to help you control the processes. So, getting these issues resolved is essential and ensuring your files are viewed, tagged and produced to the correct FOGRA standards is crucial. Quality and consistency of print is vital. Your publication is the only thing the end reader will receive, therefore a good looking product, printed to the highest standards, trimmed correctly and bound perfectly is paramount. This will help to retain readership, maintain advertising spend and potentially make publishers’ sales teams’ lives a lot easier.
A good print partner can offer you advice that could potentially enhance your publication; eg. provide you with examples of different finishes such as velvet lamination or spot UV thereby making your publication stand out from the others on the shelf. They could also offer you helpful ideas within your publication such as spreadmarkers or pull-out supplements, thereby providing your sales team with additional revenue possibilities. Additional services can also be sourced through your print partner; eg. mailing or the creation of digital publications to complement the physical version. These services can be obtained via an established partner resulting in reduced cost through purchasing in bulk.
About Stephens & George: Stephens & George Print Group were established in 1912 and are a leading sheet-fed lithographic printing company. Andrew LG Jones is, says the company, the driving force of the group, possessing unparalleled industry knowledge and displaying total commitment and loyalty, whilst ensuring S&G are at the forefront of the British printing industry.
The Supplier Q&A is sponsored content.