The United States has more than 20,000 printing businesses. When it comes to producing magazines, you can probably ignore at least 98% of those.
Lots of printers can print magazines. But most magazine publishers need a printer that can do more than print.
Magazine publishers usually ask their printers to receive, process, and store page files from a variety of sources, including ad agencies that increasingly don’t know how to create a print-ready PDF. We need them to bind a variety of cards, cover wraps, and inserts that are supplied by other printers, then to print addresses onto some copies but not onto others.
Printers presort our subscriber files, keep us in compliance with postal regulations, manage the shipment of some copies to far-flung places, and put others into storage for future use.
Tip #1: Choose a publication printer, not a printer that happens to produce publications.
Unless you publish the simplest of magazines—with no externally produced ads, no mailed copies, no versions, and only local distribution—you probably need a printer with real expertise and deep experience with our industry.
Some publication printers specialize in producing magazines and catalogs. Others serve a more diversified set of industries, but have plants, employees, and equipment dedicated to and optimized for publications. In any case, you don’t want a printer who has to learn the magazine business from you; you want one that has worked with enough publishers to understand your needs and to offer new ideas.
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