Thinking Ink: 4 Ways To Cut Costs
That doesn’t mean there’s no difference between two printers with similar combined prices. Because ink prices are not controlled by your contract’s escalation provision, but will rise with changes in actual costs, the careful publisher will accept a slightly higher presswork rate if it’s the route to the lowest ink price possible.
Appraising your ink usage
Once the contract is signed, there are still areas for ongoing cost control. The gap between the printer’s cost and his price to you is a lot wider than just the markup. The printer buys ink by the pound and sells it by the printed page, and the correspondence between the two is anything but exact.
When formulating your ink prices, a good print estimator looks at your magazine to assess the amount of ink coverage your publication requires. If it’s heavy on text, overall ink usage is low and deserves a favorable coverage estimate. This is not a question of putting pressure on a printer, but of letting the work create a justification for a price change.
There are three typical reasons an initial coverage estimate is too high. First, the estimator may not take into consideration the actual editorial and advertising content. Medical, scientific and technical publications almost always deserve a lower-than-average ink consumption rate, but so do some consumer and trade magazines. Give your pages an honest appraisal, and if they look light on graphics, make sure the printer takes it into consideration.
Second, seeking an ink reduction is always appropriate when the printer has a track record producing the publication and can compare actual usage to an initial estimate. A significant change in art direction can trigger a favorable review as well, but most magazines evolve toward an increase in graphics, entailing more ink, not less.
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