Print Contract Negotiation In-Depth
The contract should include both a clear definition of the volume and production attributes the publisher sets and the performance tolerances and tasks the printer is to undertake. Bear in mind that every time the contract requires the publisher to deliver something meeting the printer’s specs, you need to know what those specs are. Get details on submission of page files, mail.dat files, inserts and paper, and obligate the printer to provide timely, written updates when such specs change.
To clarify the printer’s services, you’ll want to define the prepress workflow, allowing for future modifications for new technology, and the printer’s distribution services, such as routing, freight preparation, securing carriers and negotiating freight rates. Also include performance tolerances, such as binding-trim variation, and press fold and dot-registration ranges.
After assembling this mighty stack of specs, it occurs to you: Over the life of the contract, you may well want to change frequency, page count, binding method, paper basis weight or trim size. The contract can cover key aspects of such changes as well. First, reserve an opportunity to review prices if the volume of work passes a certain threshold. Most important, negotiate a right to terminate the agreement in the event the printer can no longer produce the work under new specifications, whether it’s an odd trim size or an increased frequency that doesn’t fit the plant.
This termination provision has an inequitable aspect. Even if the printer has steadfastly met all his obligations, the publisher would have a right to leave, and over changes that haven’t yet occurred. Those with dark imaginations could even use the provision to break a contract by claiming the specs would change and then failing to implement the change.
But even if the printer legitimately resists this provision, you need the right to alter your product and to use a supplier whose plant is truly suited to produce it. The printer should have the right of first refusal to revise prices, schedule and equipment to maintain the account, but if you cannot mutually agree on the terms for a publication with revised specifications, you must secure the right to move the work. Otherwise, the printer is confining your product to its capabilities alone.