Master Manufacturer: 7 Tips for Analyzing Printing Prices
When comparing printing bids, it’s not enough to find out which price is lowest. Because your specifications will vary from issue to issue and because the price of raw materials will rise or fall outside your printing contract, you need to know why one bid differs from another. Here are some calculations that will help you understand the pricing philosophy of a printer. Use them to launch your negotiation, so the printer’s prices can better fit your publication’s printing requirements. 1. Print buyers are now comparing as many as five different presses—a mini web, half web, 4x2, 6x2 and 8x2. Throw in one of those 4x3s and you have a full half-dozen. Instinctively, we know that the larger the press, the lower the running rate and, potentially, the higher the makeready. To understand an individual printer’s price approach, and then to compare it with other bids, turn all the running rates into a cost per page per thousand (M) to see the efficiency discount that the printer assigns a larger press. You may discover that some printers try to even out all their equipment for a nearly uniform cost per page, while others express either a premium for inefficiency on a small press or an incentive for efficiency on a large press.
2. Next, find out how useful that efficiency really is for your magazine. Pick your most typical press run and calculate the total cost, makeready plus run, for the largest signature from each press. Divide by the page count for a total fixed and variable cost per page. Does a high makeready make the 8x2 less of a bargain? Is the printer pricing a new press at a higher full cost per page than an older one, despite the page yield? Are there steep peaks and valleys between the most efficient imposition and the least—and how often would your page count make you buy uneconomically?