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Should You Use a Local Printer or an Online Printer Service?

A host of good reasons exist for using a local printer for your project and finding one online (not local). At the same time, a good number of reasons exist for not using a local printer or an online printer. Lets examine two benefits and two drawbacks (there are plenty more) for each one.

Should you use a local printer or an online printer service?

Local or online printer?


by Ben Baker

A host of good reasons exist for using a local printer for your project and finding one online (not local). At the same time, a good number of reasons exist for not using a local printer or an online printer. Lets examine two benefits and two drawbacks (there are plenty more) for each one

LOCAL PRINTER BENEFITS

First, the printer is local. You can make eye to eye contact. He can’t avoid taking your calls or answering your emails if you show up in his office. This is especially important if there is a printer’s error. Dealing with an answering service in India is not going to get you much satisfaction. Second is economics. You network and build contacts. By supporting the printer, you show an interest in his business. If someone comes into his shop and needs graphic designs that are beyond his ability, chances are he’ll refer the customer to a graphic designer who does printing business there.

LOCAL PRINTER DRAWBACKS

First is cost. Local printers can have higher prices than giant print shops you may find online. I recently checked on a business card order and found a number of online printers whose prices were less than half that of a local print shop.

Second is limited options. Local printers, especially small job printing shops, simply don’t have the resources a giant print shop has. That could be a variety of ink colors and styles (like raised or puffy ink). It could be a lack of printing ability, such as printing on hats or custom-cut papers.

Rather than just flip the above four around, let’s look at four different reasons for online.

ONLINE PRINTER BENEFITS

First, and this is especially true for speciality printing like books and magazine, is experience. A local job printer may be able to print your glossy paper magazine, but how much experience does that printer have with that kind of work. If its a major account, are you willing to trust that work to someone who does it every day or someone who does it once or twice a year?

Secondly is proofs. For some reason, job printers in my neck of the woods are often reluctant to provide proofs before taking the job to press. The online printers I’ve contacted generally offer a proof as part of the standard contract. Sure, you generated the project, but a printer’s proof may show some problems that your equipment didn’t show.

ONLINE PRINTER DRAWBACKS

First, is lack of control. Once you send that project off, you’ve lost control of it. You may get a proof, but that is not an iron clad guarantee of the quality of the finished product. You can’t monitor, if you have time, the printing process or at least be there when the presses start rolling. If the printer has a question or problem, you can’t run by the print shop and discuss things in real time. Emails, phone calls back and forth can amount to significant delays.

Secondly is turnaround time on orders. With small job printing orders this is often not a major problem, but you may have to pay a premium for a rush job. If your print job is a really big one, such as a book, a local printer might not be able to match the turnaround time of a speciality printer you find online.

HERE ARE A LIST OF ARTICLES ABOUT PRINTING AND PREPRESS

Ben Baker has used local printers and online printers for work he does. He generally shops book projects to online printers and small job printing to a local shop.

[tags]print services, printing services, online printers vs local printers, online printer vs local printer, local printers, online printers, graphic design[/tags]

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5 Comments

  1. Posted May 30, 2007 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    career advice in graphics and animation career

  2. Ellen
    Posted June 1, 2007 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    All your links direct me to the “local printer vs oline printer” article.

    Iwanted to read the top 10 graphic design books and an article abt marketing and each time the links take me here.

  3. Posted June 1, 2007 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    hi, i am lia. a visual-brand-designer from Indonesia.

    i like this blog :) it is casually informative, down to earth.
    wondering who is the owner?

  4. Posted June 23, 2007 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Hi,

    I have always found it to be quite easy to use online print services. We design logos and corporate identities and used to actually have a reseller account with Vista Print that we used for printing of stationery for our clients.

    In our experience we found that online print companies did not have any problems what so ever with the PDF files or the EPS files that we generated. Nor did they have any problems with the colors.

    However when our clients use local offline printers, we found that most them had different standards for bleeds and crop marks and a lot of them did not have Illustrator or other vector editing software to do minor changes to the bleeds before printing.

    These clients would then come back to us. We do not a have a problem with this as it would take 2 minutes to change the files to suit that printers bleed settings. However this wastes the client’s time and creates stress to the client.

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  5. Posted November 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi,

    I agree with this article’s pros and cons. Heading a company that uses print services very frequently to print the flyers, banners, postcards, door hangers and business cards we design, I would definitely vouch for online print services for larger scale companies.

    Thank you,
    Timothy Jones
    CEO
    BliSs eNTERTAINMENT
    URL: http://www.blissent.net
    Phone: 704-615-5457
    Toll Free: +1-866-71-BliSs
    Fax: 404-393-1056

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