If you’re thinking of publishing four-color books, you’ll quickly learn that manufacturing them overseas is the most cost effective approach. But perhaps you don’t want to go overseas, because you’re nervous about pirating, quality control, or overall loss of control. Think again.
Weighing the Cost Factor
In the ultra-competitive world of publishing, you need to make cost-effective choices to increase your profitability. Costs for printing two- or four-color books are considerably higher than for one-color, so your margins will be tighter, making it even more important to buy as smart as possible. The cost savings of overseas printing can mean the difference between your project’s financial success or failure.
Manufacturing your four-color titles overseas is a reliable option that delivers high quality. You can expect a 20-40% savings over the US. Sometimes you just don’t have an option but to work globally.
A Popular Option for Four-Color Work
At least 90% of the four-color books published in this country are manufactured overseas. A quick stop at your local bookstore will verify that for you. Publishers all over the country, from the largest houses to the self-publisher, have been printing four-color books overseas for more than 20 years, precisely because they can control the process. They can import the finest quality product available, at profitable prices.
How to Avoid Potential Problems
No doubt publishers have bad experiences going overseas, just as publishers have had bad experiences with domestic printers. Manufacturing is a potentially problematic venture wherever you work. If you choose reliable suppliers, suppliers with integrity who will stand behind their work, you’ll be fine. Keep in mind that most of the overseas vendors who have experience exporting to the US know your needs and are very accomplished at fulfilling them. Areas of potential problems are late schedules, quality control, the inability to communicate your needs, and unexpected costs in clearing customs. Avoid them by getting a schedule in writing, checking printed samples and references, asking for blank dummies to approve materials, and getting a price estimate for Customs clearance.
How to Select an Overseas Printer
In choosing a supplier anywhere in the world, the process is basically the same. When you understand the process, then choosing a supplier for overseas work is less daunting.
1. You will want to see printed samples of the vendor’s work. It’s best to narrow down your choice of vendors to two or three before requesting this. Keep in mind that a printed piece can be only as good as your original art and your ability to correct color.
2. It’s often more appropriate to confirm your supplier’s abilities with a test separation of your artwork. That will show you most accurately what your supplier can do for you.
3. You’ll also want to get references from publishers who have worked with the supplier.
4. Any supplier worth working with will take the time to answer any question, even if you feel silly asking it because it seems like a very basic question. Ask the supplier what type of work they do and how long they have been doing it. How long have they been importing to the United States?
5. How a vendor takes care of you right from the beginning is likely how they will take care of you through production. Do they respond to you quickly? Are they helpful? Are they thorough? Are they interested in your business? You’ll want this kind of attention when your title is in the throes of production, even if you pay a little more for it.
If you get good attention and prices from your overseas supplier and everything else checks out, then go ahead. Just because you’re not familiar with printing overseas doesn’t mean you have to worry-your supplier knows how the process works, and you’re hiring them for their expertise.
Lori Comtois is president and founder of PrintNet, Inc., a print management company. She has served as a consultant to publishers for over 20 years regarding print buying, and has managed production on hundreds of four-color titles. To contact PrintNet, call 800/656-4498. Visit their Web site at www.printnetglobal.com.