Bye, Bye, Bye
It might be time to dump a bad printer.
I hate finding a new printer. I’m more likely to stick with a flawed printer than to try out a new printer because that new printer could force me to change my layout dimensions, my print schedule, and my submission format and still may screw up an issue’s worth of hard work.
But sometimes it has to be done, and sometimes it can be an awesome change that makes you wonder why you stayed with a bad printer for so long. I’m in my 14th year as an adviser, and I’m on my fifth printer. Each one has been an improvement.
The good thing is printers typically want your business! You’re a big account. This isn’t like asking your principal for funding or asking your tech guy to set up something. You are the prize!
So if you decide it’s time to break out of a bad relationship, the JEMKC board came up with seven questions we would ask any new printer. Like any relationship, different people want different things. Flaws I tolerate may be deal-breakers for you, and vice versa.
How flexible is our deadline? Some printers have zero flexibility due to tight schedules. If you miss your deadline, you may be paying a steep penalty or waiting awhile for the next slot. But my printer is typically fine with me submitting a day later. He’ll just return it to me a day later.
What is the turnaround time? I have had printers that could get return a paper in 24 hours. My current printer takes a solid week.
What paper formats do you have? Even within the standard categories (broadsheet, tabloid, magazine), you may have a lot of variation in sizes.
What paper options do you have? Please send us samples of your printing. There’s glossy versus traditional newsprint, lightweight versus heavier weights, and brighter white options. When I was terrible at teaching photography and using the cheapest equipment, I didn’t need a super-sharp printer. I asked my printer in 2007 for a quote on recycled newsprint for our special issue on the environment. He said, “You’re already getting recycled paper. Newsprint is the scrap heap of printer paper.” We’ve upgraded to brighter, more expensive paper twice since then, and I still see a couple steps up available.
What is the cost for x-amount of copies for 16/24/32/40 pages? I’ve had a printer who charged more for 24 than for 32 because 24 adds a step (not sure why). Others make 32 almost as cheap as 16. You may find out shortening your paper leads to big savings, or that expanded coverage will barely impact your budget. Make sure you get the whole table of price options.
Do you charge extra for shipping?How do we submit pages? Some want PDFs, others want ZIPs. Some use email, some have a special FTTP site.
Printers used by JEMKC Board Members
School Portrait Photographers
I asked the JEMKC board who they used for school portraits, and I received a lot of strong opinions. I was looking for a solid choice, but what I found was a lack of consensus. It seems no company is consistently good for years, so don’t expect a lifetime commitment.
Rolland Studios in Raytown: Steve Mullally (firstname.lastname@example.org), used by all Blue Valley high schools
Lifetouch in Stilwell and Gladstone: Nick Waldschmidt (email@example.com), used by Saint Thomas Aquinas and Gardner-Edgerton
Inter-State Studios in Sedalia: (inter-state.com), previously used by JEMKC board members
Strawbridge Studios: will likely be used in the future by a JEMKC board member
Reed Portrait Group in the Northland: (816) 436-5550, used by Park Hill South and local schools
Pearce Photo Graphics in Belton: (816) 331-8586, used by Liberty
Scholastic in Shawnee Mission: (schphoto.net), used by North Kansas City