When your company needs a large number of books, brochures, magazines, or catalogs printed, it’s time for a press run. And it can be tough to know where to start. The most obvious worry when printing thousands of copies is whether you’re getting the best value possible, but this also needs to be balanced with quality. And comparison shopping for wholesale printers is not an easy task, especially without the experience to understand the landscape.
This is where a print broker comes in. As a liaison between companies and wholesale printers, print brokers offer their expertise, networks, and long-standing relationships with printers. They’ll help you figure out the best way to print, and how to get the best deal possible. The best print brokers will offer access to deals that might not be available otherwise. They’ll find the cheapest, most efficient way to meet your printing needs, without sacrificing quality. And in practice, brokers can often offer other benefits as well.
Why do I need a print broker?
There are a lot of variables and moving parts in coordinating a large print run, and the larger the project, the more this is the case. A print broker will help you manage those details. They’ll help you understand your options for different types of paper, and the wide range of special print methods that can enhance the design and visual impact of your project. They’ll know the best wholesale printer for your particular needs.
There’s been an ongoing trend of sending printing jobs offshore to places like Asia, where books can be printed more cheaply. But this often takes several months. More recently, automation has allowed US printers to offer competitive prices and better quality—and without the three-month lead time required to send a project to China. Often, these jobs can be finished in as little as three weeks. That’s less time your money is tied up in printing.
Izzard works as your print broker, leveraging its close relationship with printers—including a US printer which, unlike most, cuts costs even further by buying directly from a paper mill.
A good broker will have an established working relationship with one primary or several specialty printers. Not only will this get you the best deal possible, but it can have added perks. A printer is more likely to go above and beyond, for example to fix mistakes found during the print run, when they’re working with a broker they’ve known for years.
What to look for in a print broker?
A print broker should be responsive, willing to provide feedback, and should take your specific needs and goals into account. They should be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of printing and should have a longstanding relationship with printers.
In many ways, you can think of a print broker in the same way you’d think of a mortgage broker. You’ll sit down with them, and give them a sense of what you’re looking for. They’ll know what questions to ask to help build a plan, and they’ll have answers. They’ll leverage their own well-established network, so you don’t have to spend your own time calling different banks in search of the best mortgage for your needs—or in this case, the best printers. They’ll then get the best deal and best outcome possible, thanks to their working relationships in specialized areas of expertise and experience.
How do clients benefit?
Izzard’s print broker experience recently benefited one client, who came to us and needed 50,000 books printed with full color, as cheaply as possible. We could have sent them to a Hong Kong team, to have them printed in China, which has often been the best option for many clients. We got a quote and almost went this way, but their lead times were three months or more. This would have tied up the client’s money, and they let us know this could be a problem. At the same time, the political unrest in Hong Kong was creating another level of uncertainty. COVID-19 played a role too because everything was starting to shut down in China. It’s a print broker’s job to find an option that suits a client’s needs, so we needed to look elsewhere.
Instead, we connected the client with a printer that could handle the job in just three weeks, in the US, a mere 45-minute drive from where the books needed to be distributed. This cut out a lot of cost and time. The company was fairly new to printing, and we had helped them improve their quality control procedures and pre-press processes. This ‘give and take’ is a big part of how we establish close working relationships with printers that benefit clients down the line.
Have you ever wondered how printers find and fix mistakes? The answer is, they normally don’t—that’s up to the client. Printers send a low-resolution book to let clients check ‘pagination,’ or whether the pages are organized properly. This low-resolution “test book” lets you thumb through it like you would a real book. They’ll then send high-resolution sheets for a quality check to make sure all the details are correct. The client is always responsible for making sure there are no errors and giving final approval—it’s not up to the printer. Always make sure at least one or two editors have looked it over before you go to print.
However, in the order we moved from China to the local printer, the printer found an error once the process had already been started. There was an Xxx printed over three words on a page, due to an error that was overlooked on a master page in InDesign. The printer stopped, let us know, and gave us the chance to fix it. This is unusual and happened only because of our ongoing relationship with the printer.
With our China printer, we would ask a question and wait a day or two for an answer, before we could ask another question, thanks to time zone issues—our contact was on East Coast time, and had to connect with the team in Hong Kong. With the stateside printer, we could get six or seven questions answered in a day. This working relationship can make all the difference in the world for clients.
Amazingly, the stateside printer was the same cost, since they were working with new, highly automated machines. This automation has allowed us to bring print jobs back to the US, and to offer clients the benefits of our partnership with the printer.
Who needs a print broker?
A print broker can benefit a printing project for brochures, books, magazines, or anything that needs a large press run. It could be helpful for a project with as few as 500 items, but you’ll get the best value with a print job of 5000 or larger.
Print brokers can be very helpful for clients with specific needs who aren’t sure where to start. For example, one client was publishing a book of recipes. They wanted to keep their 6 by 9 layout to ship their book cheaply but also wanted it be able to lay flat on a kitchen counter. We were able to suggest Wire-O binding as a solution. Another client wanted a “natural” look for their book, and we were able to suggest bamboo paper.
These are the kinds of questions print brokers can answer, and then coordinate the best process to suit your needs. There really aren’t limits with a good print broker, just let us know what you want and we’ll go out and make it a reality.