The greeting card industry is served by a number of specialist printing companies who offer not just printing but also a 'one stop shop' for finishing (eg. foiling or adding glitter) supplying envelopes and cello wrap.
There are two main types of printing to choose from:
- Lithography - offering the traditional four colour process with large print runs
- Digital - more expensive in terms of unit cost, but ideally suited to short runs. Some digital printers will print on demand, so small publishers do not have to invest in large amounts of stock up front.
As a new start up publisher you will initially be working with a specialist digital print company printing small quantities of cards, rather than going for a full lithographic run of thousands of cards. This will give you the flexibility to test your ranges, saving you the outlay on up front costs and storage space.
Regard your first print runs as market research to find out which of the cards are most likely to sell well and which are the duds! Obtain quotes from several digital printers and ask for samples. Always consult your printers, visit them and build up a good working relationship with them.
The best specialist printers are Associate GCA members - here's a shortcut to their listing in the GCA Members' Directory.
If you have created designs on computer, the standard four-colour lithographic process should not be relied upon to match solid blocks of colour with your pantone references. If working with a litho printer, it is an idea to ask for a 'wet proof', which will show you how all the colours print up. It may be necessary to use a 'special' colour, where the printer lays a special ink of the colour specified. Remember also that different boards will react differently to the printing process.
Digital printers will provide proofs on the exact board you have chosen for your cards.