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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 35 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Inhouse all the way.  (Read 1548 times)
Seth M. Drebitko
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Posts: 318


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« on: April 03, 2008, 03:33:49 AM »

  Hello myself and a friend are looking into some short run self printing and I know a couple people here have much more experience. I have looked into some all by hand options here before but I will be looking into some machinery this time around ^_^. Our goal is attain some small semblance of the coolness that is Guild of Blades, and Hamster Press.
  To start we are looking to create little 40-60 page 6*9 booklets with professional quality covers, small Zombies!!! style game board tiles, cards, and for game pieces we will most likely use small labeled chips. Each of these little game kits would be neatly packed up in a standard folded box, most likely created from a very heavy card stock.
  My question is for those who have been plugging away self servicing every end of your business, where did you learn your skills? What equipment would you suggest, and essentially what advice you have on self printing? I am trying to research this situation though most of the results I am finding our teaching tools, or arts and crafts for little kids.
  Thanks for any help, if I find the answers I am looking for before I get a response here I will post up my findings for those interested.
Regards, Seth
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guildofblades
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2008, 09:44:08 AM »

Hi Seth,

Boy, where to begin.

The first thing you should probably do is take a trip to your local paper wholesaler. Get familiar with the stocks and sizes they have there. For small printing solutions, if you are in the US, you will find that finished productions at 6" x 9" are a bit of an odd duck. We're doing printing on 12" x 18" sheets for our POD Playing cards, but thats only because we can get 18 cards on a sheet that way as opposed to just 12 or so on an standard 11" x 17" sheet. But otherwise, 12" x 18" is only a little bit larger than 11" x 17" but costs significantly more.

So you may find that "digest" sized titles and booklets will be much more economical for you (them being 5.5" x 8.5" finished size). You could print them 4 up on a 11" x 17" sheet or 2 up on an 8.5" x 11" sheet.

Your largest problem for sourcing will be your box, because unless you've got huge bucks to drop on equipment, producing that in-house will be impossible. So you may want to investigate stock boxes of a size and quality you like at a price you can afford, then think about how or if you could print wraps for those boxes.

Playing cards are a bit tricky as well. In order to POD produce them we bought a thousand dollar die cutter and a near ten thousand dollar xerox printer. If you are producing smaller quantities, you *might* be able to get the registration you need out of a higher quality photo printer. We recently bought a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer that does fair quality (really varies though depending on the quality of paper you stick in there) and that might work for you. Though we only bought it because its back feed lets us print up to 23" inches long and the box wraps for our larger board games are 21.5" long and the new Xerox will only print up to 18" long. We outsource box wraps for our stronger sellers to a flier printing company at 1,000 to 2,000 per print run, but its really nice having the ability to print box wraps for slower sellers in house. Some slow selling expansions and accessories might only sell 100 a year or less. 1,000 to 2,000 color wraps for said products is just too much to be sitting on.

Before I could really recommend specific equipment, I would need to know what you feel your volume on production would be.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com

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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
Seth M. Drebitko
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Posts: 318


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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2008, 08:15:36 AM »

  Sorry for delay school and work burned up a lot of time. My big question primarily is where exactly is it that you picked up your knowledge of printing books, and board games. I know the scope of what is involved is far to wide to comprehensively cover in a simple little thread, and have not found anything online beyond simple non commercial how to guides.
  We have the time to learn, as our strategy currently is to start to bulk up a pdf range through a combination of ransom/advertising options.
Regards, Seth
In hind site this thread would have made more sense in the connections area :-/
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The adventure's just begun!
guildofblades
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2008, 09:55:08 PM »

One piece at a time.

We would investigate what one machine was capable of, then seek out advise for any and every person with pre-existing knowledge of how the thing worked. If it looked promising enough and we can lay hands on one at an affordable enough price, then we would acquire one and try to put it to work in the manner we had envisioned it being used for.

Just figure out what you have a "need" for and then look at the various methods you can fill that need. Keep your list of "needs" as short as possible at first.

Just for a simple example. Let's say you want to only print saddle stitched game modules. What would you need?

1) A means to print a color cover
2) A means to print the interior pages
3) A means saddle stitch it.
4) A means to fold it.
5) If you wanted to get fancy with them, a means trim up the edge post-folding to make it look nicer.

If your company is starting small it also means your sales volumes will likely be both small and managable at first. Which means you don't necessarily need to start with ubber expansive and high capacity systems. First see what you can accomplish cheaply, as conserving capital and cash flow are key to having additional options later when you your sales have grown to show the need.

So, saddle stitching. That's just a saddle stitch stapler and a few boxes of staples. $20-30.

Trimming the pages. You can get manual, desk top stack paper cutters for a $200 or less, including shipping. This would let you do the trim edge on maybe 3-8 saddle stitched books at a time.

Folding it. The power of your own hands. Simply collate your sheets into their books, toss your cover on top, then fold the whole shebang in half and use your fingers to crimp and apply the fold crease. I can tell you that back in 99-2000, we must have hand folded about 20,000 game products, back when our "board games" we folded up and stuff into zip bags.

Printing interior pages. Well, you might not get the best image quality from them, but nothing beats digital duplicators for speed and cost of printing. You can buy one of these used starting around $500. Ideal for printing maybe 50-150 games at a time, dirt cheap.

The color cover printing is the bigger challenge. If you are doing short production runs only and direct selling, you probably have enough profit margin that any decent quality desk top photo laser printer will do. You can get these starting around $100 and up to around $350-$400 for over sized ones. We recently purchased a Pixma 9000 Pro printer from Canon because it has both refillable inks and because it can print up to 23 inches long, which our new Xerox can't. The photo quality paper if where you get hit on the cost, it being significantly more expensive than standard paper weights. But you could produce modules all day long, as many as you like, with the above. If you had just a single module or two modules with no other products coming down the pike, investing in any kind of color printer might not be ideal. You could just outsource the booklet covers to a flier printing company and get a thousand of them for like $250 or so. Then just print your interiors in smaller batches and assemble.

So, for as little as a grand you could print modules all day long. For another $1,200, you toss on a small perfect binder and you can do your own short run perfect bound books. The flaw with such a basic set up is, the labor. Its a fine set up for getting stuff produced cheaply and using sweat equality to save on capital. But you're hand collating everything. Yikes, that gets troublesome if your volumes increase. Then you either need to get yourself a used collator system ( I say used because new ones are certainly NOT cheap. But for instance, we have a 13 bin Bourg collator we picked up cheap in trade and you can often find used models like these for a grand or so), or a more modern digital printer that can print and collate at the same time.

But anyways, just identify your most basic and immediate need and get what you need to service that need as cheaply as you can. Take the time learn how to get the most mileage possible out of that tool. Then as your next need shows itself, grab yourself another item to service that need. One at a time.

Without the experience or serious capital behind you, trying to go from nothing to running a complete in house print shop is sure to cost you both a lot of money and a goodly deal of time trying to master it all at once. At the point where you want to bring that much capital to the game, you ought to just hire an experienced professional to run it all for you anyway. Just I say just start small and expand your in house operation one piece at a time. That'll give you plenty of time to research and bend whatever ears you need to bend to learn about the things you need to learn one at a time.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group - http://www.guildofblades.com/retailgroup.php
Guild of Blades Publishing Group - http://www.guildofblades.com
1483 Online - http://www.1483online.com
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Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing Group
http://www.guildofblades.com
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