Magazine publishers have a lot riding on this. When the deliverable is a print magazine, selecting a printer can make or break a publication. Is it better to go local or national? Is price the primary concern? What makes for a good vendor relationship? With hundreds of magazine printers to choose from, what qualities should publishers look for in a vendor? What do publishers need to know to choose their most critical vendor partner?
Shopping for a good magazine printer isn’t all about price. The equipment behind the price can have significant effects on a publication’s quality. Simply put, in the printing process, machines matter.
To evaluate a vendor’s equipment, reverse engineer the printing process. It’s important to start with a basic understanding of the process. Knowledge of today’s magazine printing technology and techniques — including offset lithography, flexography, and digital printing — is essential to a thorough evaluation. Each comes with its own variables that contribute to the cost and quality of a final product. For each potential printing partner, obtain copies of the magazines they have produced, and inspect them closely to assess their print quality, and talk with them about what type of printing will be most cost-effective for meeting the standards a publication — and its subscribers — demand.
Check out the company
The goal is to build a long-term relationship with a printer and trusted advisor. Due diligence demands publishers obtain and check a printer’s references, follow up on any information they provide, and verify their production history and expertise. Examine their social media channels, and check online ratings and reviews. Determine whether a printer seems easy to work with — and whether their experience qualifies them for a long-term publishing partnership.
On the question of boutique versus full-service printing partners, consider the depth of service your publications require. For publishers who can get by with minimum capabilities, a smaller print shop may suffice. But if you’re seeking a full complement of publication services — including mailing, co-mailing, onsite postal expertise, optimized digital editions, order fulfillment, customer centric evaluations, and subscriber management — a full-service printer is more likely to have the technology, experience, and capability necessary to meet your publication needs.
Build a strong relationship
Don’t discount the power of a strong relationship. A successful business depends on trust — from employees to subscribers, advertisers, and even the printer behind the pages. The goal is to move beyond the vendor relationship, and cultivate your printer as a trusted advisor with a long-term place in your business strategy.
Over time, an experienced printer can provide valuable advice for improving products and production processes. When a printer learns a publisher’s mission, audience, and business goals, they can anticipate your needs and add value to your business.
Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.