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"I thought we all were quick printers now!"

May 29, 2007 12:00 AM

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What's the dif?

What’s the difference between a quick printer and a small commercial printer? A few years ago, some factions in the industry, including the National Assn. of Quick Printers (NAQP), felt the term “quick printing” was something of a marketing liability. A quick printer, they argued, often was perceived as a sloppy printer. The association opted to rechristen itself “Print Imaging International.” This sounded impressive and followed in the fine tradition of other respected organizations such as “The International House of Pancakes.”

As a practical matter, if you go to an IHOP, you know are going to a pancake emporium. If you visit a print imager, however, the situation is a bit murkier. A few years ago, the association, now under the auspices of NAPL ( opted to revert back to the NAQP moniker.

Modern maturity: We need new terms
John Zarwan and Cary Sherburne, co-authors of PRIMIR’s ( “Small Commercial and Quick Printer Study: 2006-2011,” suggest we need an updated classification system: “The current classifications being used to segment the small commercial and quick print market are obsolete. [Our] study found relatively minor differences between quick printers, whether independent or franchise, digital printers, copy shops and small commercial printers. Where in the past the lines between these segments were clear, today they are increasingly blurred. Definitions that were put in place years ago by agencies that collect data, primarily the U.S. Census Bureau and its Canadian counterparts, are no longer relevant.”

Readers have their say
We recently asked readers of our e-mail newsletter, InRegister, to join the debate. Some selected comments follow.

Bigger budgets
"The main difference is that a commercial printer tends to work on projects with larger budgets, typically ones involving advertising agencies, publishers and lager companies with marketing departments. I previously worked with a small publishing company in the Kansas City area that had several major customers in the electronics industry. Most of the catalogs we produced for them ranged from 32 to more than 500 pages of text plus inserts. We used a variety of commercial printers, from small family-owned shops with older multicolor 40-inch sheetfed presses to a large, multiplant national printer with half- and full-size web equipment.

"Occasionally, we needed short run one- or two-color items, such as carrier cards or envelopes for bond printed matter mailings or single-page items for collating or bulk mailings. For these projects we always turned to a local quick printer that took incredibly good care of us. They also provided our small company with printed office supplies such as letterheads, fax sheets and business cards." John Wakefield, production coordinator, Midland Litho (North Kansas City, MO)

Size matters
"The big difference is perspective. A quick printer can be better quality (or not), more profitable (or not), greater sales (or not), etc. Size is the only reasonable distinction. Years ago, that would have been anything larger than two-up, now it would probably be larger than four-up, two-color or so. Perhaps there is a need for gross sales to factor in as well, say, more than $5 million [is the dividing line between quick] and small commercial printers?" John Fattaruso, owner, Max Graphics (Cortand, NY)

The last word
"I thought we all were quick printers now!" Robert Johannes, general manager, Parris Printing (Nashville, TN)