Print Contract Negotiation In-Depth
Publisher-supplied paper is quite a hot potato. The printer’s attorney would prefer to stay at arm’s length here and have the stock befoul the press before he jumps in to save you from a mill mistake, for the simple reason that if he fails to spot a problem he might begin to share in liability for it. But on a practical basis, the legal anxiety can be trumped by the need to keep the plant productive.
The contract can state that the printer is obligated to inspect paper for defects detectable before production, such as crushed cores or moisture damage. He is not considered liable for identifying defects that can only be found when the paper is used.
Now the hammer comes down. You must rely on the printer’s inspections, and any failure to report defects that can reasonably be found before production constitutes acknowledgment that the materials conform to specifications. The publisher will be liable for costs or idle time resulting only from defects that cannot be detected in advance.
Timeliness has no shades of gray, but it’s a mutual obligation of printer and publisher, so the contract includes commitments on both parts. The production schedule is subtly linked with the specifications, and the production cycle times are technically limited to the range of pages and counts stipulated. When drawing up the specs, bear in mind that you are balancing some conflicting goals: You might want to negotiate a price break (and would therefore specify the lowest realistic press run), but you also want the schedule to accommodate the biggest volume.
You can address pricing tiers in the contract itself rather than stinting the count in the specs and trying to earn a price cut later; this way, the production schedule can reveal any potential limits in turnaround time at the outset.