What’s the Cost of Print?

Posted on Mar 31, 2016 in Blog, Fundamentals
What’s the Cost of Print?

It’s budget time and you may be trying to calculate the cost of a new print piece for student recruitment, the annual fund, or your school magazine. These are considerations affecting cost that you will need to communicate to vendors vying for your business:

  • Quantity: The more you print, the less per unit it will cost. Work from a distribution plan and mailing lists to get a range when requesting bids.
  • Format: Number of panels or pages. For major publications, like magazines, think in terms of multiples of 16 being the most economical to print—32, 48 or 64 pages, for example.
  • Finished dimensions: Think mailing—if this will self-mail, does the size fall within USPS guidelines? If the piece will mail in an envelope, make sure it will fit a standard size.
  • Binding: Folded (mock one up), saddle-stitched (stapled), and perfect-bound (glued along the spine) are the most common.
  • Paper: Readers are favoring uncoated stock these days, which may be more economical and more eco-friendly than coated paper. Ask for samples.
  • Offset or digital: Discuss printing options with the designer or printer—quantity, flat size, and number of pages or panels may determine whether offset or digital printing is more appropriate.
  • Photography: Make sure to get estimates for color correction and retouching or special effects from the printer in advance.
  • Weight: Make sure you know how much your finished piece will weigh as it hits the post office, so you can calculate postage.
  • Postage: Planning ahead can allow time to make your piece eligible for nonprofit rates, and avoid having to mail first class. Is your permit up to date?

And don’t forget…

  • Schedule: Do not rush your job or the printer may charge you extra. Allow two to three weeks for magazines to print and mail.
  • Author’s alterations: Proofread everything carefully, including the details—and don’t allow last-minute changes or you may be charged extra.
  • Piggybacks: When planning your piece, make sure to account for envelope, giving slips or other “attachments” that may add to cost.
  • Mail fulfillment: Who is going to collate, stuff and assemble your job for mailing? Choose a vendor who can accommodate; it is rarely worth your time to do this in-house. BUT, you are responsible for your mailing lists—use your time to keep your data clean and up-to-date.

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