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Protect Your Print-Job Delivery

The devil is in the details in print buying as in many other endeavors. A print brokering client of mine recently sent a 65-copy digital job to press. It's a 9” x 12” perfect-bound book retelling one family's experiences during the Holocaust.

The commercial printing vendor producing this job offered to shrink wrap the books individually for a $20.00 total cost. I think this is some of the best spent money in this particular print book budget. It will minimize the chances for damage to any of my client's books (essentially his family legacy as well as his hard-earned money). Even a ding or a scratch would mar this prized possession that will touch and enlighten his family and friends for decades.

When you're producing a book, or perhaps a pocket folder with a build pocket, or any other job that may be fragile, discuss with your printer ways he can protect the job in transit.

Options may include stacking pocket folders on their ends in the cartons, so the weight of the folders on the top doesn't bend those at the bottom of the stack. Other options may include packing lighter or smaller cartons, or including paper or plastic bubble packing within the cartons. Your printer will be knowledgeable and will give you choices, but it pays to be proactive and raise the question if you feel the least concern. Avoid the disappointment of a damaged delivery.

Sign for the Delivery to Protect Your Investment

The same client, interestingly enough, planned to be away on the day his books were to arrive. Keep in mind that my client lives in a house. This was to be a residential delivery.

Residential deliveries pose their own issues, so it's prudent to tell your printer early exactly how the job needs to arrive. If your delivery point is a loading dock at an office building, your printer can plan to have the trucking company both pick up and deliver the job in cartons brick-stacked on a palette and moved both onto and off the truck using a lift of some kind. Both pick-up and delivery are then essentially the movement of a single item (the stacked and wrapped pallet—also known as a skid).

A delivery to a house, on the other hand, necessitates moving multiple cartons, which need to be loaded onto the truck (perhaps on a pallet) and then offloaded from the truck as individual boxes. The boxes may need to be taken in small batches up the porch stairs, or, if the residence is an apartment building, the cartons may need to be taken up the stairs or elevator in small batches. Of course a delivery to an office building without a loading dock must be treated in the same way.

This kind of delivery broken down into individual cartons needs to be brought to the attention of your printer early since it will affect the delivery price. It will raise the total cost because it requires so much more labor. The terms to use in your written delivery specifications are as follows: inside delivery, residence, no loading dock, need to use the stairs, or whatever.

In my client's case there were additional circumstances. I was worried about both weather and theft. My client suggested having the delivery driver stack the boxes under the porch overhang. This solved the potential problem of rain damage. After months of writing, designing, printing, and binding work, it would have been a crushing blow for him to have found rain-soaked books in cartons on the porch.

But I was also concerned about theft. Who would have known that the boxes contained books that were only valuable to my client? A thief might have thought the boxes contained items of commercial value such as electronics, and he or she probably would not have returned the stolen boxes after discovering their contents.

My client had asked that the boxes be left on his porch without the delivery driver's needing my client's signature. I voiced my concerns and gave him some alternatives. He could be present and sign for the books (which might require waiting at home all day), or he could have the cartons delivered to another residence of a friend (or to a commercial business) and have the delivery signed for by the friend or business proprietor.

I told my client why I thought it was so important for him to require a signature for delivery. If anything had happened to the boxes of books—damage, theft—there would have been no record of responsibility, and my client would have had no redress. He would have had a bill for the entire job, fewer books than required, or possibly no books, and no way to determine what had happened. The printer would also have had no way to determine responsibility, and would therefore have been very unlikely to have reprinted the books for free.

In contrast, if my client—or a trusted “agent” of his—received the delivery and noted damage, there would have been a written record of the condition of the delivery at its initiation, in its transit, and at its final destination. If the damage had occurred in transit, the printer could have reprinted the job knowing he would be compensated by the delivery firm.

In your own print buying work, I would therefore always encourage you to require a signature and check the cartons for damage before you sign. I would even go further. I would suggest that you open a number of boxes and make a random check for damage. If you have received a delivery of print books, check a few in each carton for printing and binding quality. Once you have made sure the job is ok, it is wise to send an email to your commercial printer noting the receipt and condition of the job. And if the job looks great, say so. It does wonders for your relationship with your printer. In many cases he has only heard complaints. You can make his day if you like his work and take the time to tell him.

Keep in mind that the job is not yours to keep—or your responsibility to pay for—until you have “accepted delivery.” Check carefully, and then let your vendor know that the job is acceptable.

A Benefit of Adobe’s Creative Cloud: A Plethora of Fonts

I just learned of an added benefit of Adobe's Creative Cloud. You get access to a plethora of fonts.

To quote from a CreativePro.com article (“It's Raining Fonts: Typekit for Desktop Apps Comes to the Creative Cloud,” 5/24/13, by Mike Rankin), “subscribers will soon have the ability to browse, search, download, and install fonts for use in any application: Photoshop, InDesign, Word, you name it.” (Note that this is any application, not just Adobe applications.)

In June, Creative Cloud subscribers will have access to 175 font families from seven foundries. And this is just the first installment. Granted, you have to be a subscriber, and Adobe's fees can add up, but as you do the math to make your decision, just think of the creative possibilities of having access to all these fonts. Also, think of the amount you would normally pay to buy them for individual use. (To put this in perspective, you can buy Adobe's Helvetica Standard Full Family, 19 fonts, for $360.00.)

Granted, a stipulation for using Typekit fonts is that you cannot send your printer copies of the fonts unless he already has them. My expectation is that printers will in fact also subscribe to Creative Cloud. However, Adobe has a work-around, regardless of font ownership. You can legally embed the fonts in a PDF, and since most printers follow a PDF workflow, this should work just fine if the printer does not own the specific fonts you're using.

If you want to use Typekit without subscribing to Adobe's Creative Cloud, you can buy a Typekit subscription for a $50.00 annual fee. It seems that “software as a service” (SaaS) is now in vogue in the realm of design.


[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]

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