How to effectively print/ship scores and to be competitive as a publisher?

Printing, binding, promotion and the business side of engraving.
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How to effectively print/ship scores and to be competitive as a publisher?

Post by OCTO » 22 Jul 2019, 17:48

Since ever as long as I remember making music, I always dreamed having my scores printed properly. It means: beautiful notation on beautiful paper, effectively bound, with a great cover and – shipped?
In '90s we had got the rise of notation software, which is now not only standard for almost all publishers but also for anyone, even amateurs. It means that a great deal of producing music has been shifted from impossible – to possible.
In my topic here ( viewtopic.php?f=13&t=58 ) I have described in detail the way how scores should be done and prepared in order to get sold on your own webshop. You have composed a piece, engraved it, sold online and now what?

The definite problem is how to produce scores and how to ship them, effectively. Buying a large printer doesn't solve in my opinion the problem of hi-quality printing, and consequently not even binding. It is definitely obvious if a score was printed on an office printer. I remember also punching the holes on the wrong side for binding... Than running to the post office? What about not doing anything of this?

For years I investigated this and found the way out.


Lightning Source UK
My first discovery in 2009 was LSUK: a print-on-demand service. It is similar to Lulu. It is a very large company (Ingram) and has facilities in UK, US and AUS ( ... -on-demand )
The thing is that you can print scores up to letter/A4 size. Up to 48 pages it can be stapled. The cover and printing is excellent (depending, quality of your choice). Possible to get proper binding for scores over 50 pages (lay flat), but it costs more. In general a normal book binding apply (no possible to lay flat), but it can be ok for study scores.
You need to open account as B2B.
There is a fee to upload a book, but once uploaded (as PDF) you can choose to stay there and when you get an order, you simply log in into your account and submit the order. You pay them directly for the service. Shipping is very effective, with alternatives.
There is an option to submit to the worldwide bookstores your title, by paying about 8€ per year. It means that the score immediately appears everywhere such as Amazon and others. If you don't have ISBN, they provide it automatically.

My second discovery, in 2013, was Halstan, a large international company based in Germany (with printing also in UK and US, ). The very special thing is that – it is the main printer for Schott, Peters, Boosey and others. Basically it means that they print almost exclusively only music scores; and in its turn it means your scores will look - highly professional (=properly).
Everything from small size paper to large scores. Binding alternatives are available but it also depends of the number of pages. The spiral binding is just properly done for music (not to sound when you turn it). The paper is not snow white but with a shade, the right weight. Staff lines, curves are in high definition and don't disappear if eraser is used.
You can even make your own covers in color in order to have uniform appearance of your scores.
It is also B2B service. You need to set up an account with them by contacting them. Than you need to upload your documents as PDF. As with LSUK, every upload costs (I guess in order to prevent numerous re-submissions for corrections – therefore, the corrections come first!).
They offer both UPS and DHL shipping, with options. It is a simple and effective. For more info see attached PDF.


What is the workflow?
- Some scores I have with LSUK, small sizes. The costs are lower than with Halstan. On the other side, all orchestral materials and conducting scores are with Halstan.
- Upload the scores to them after the first order. Because, the upload is a cost, and why to start with costs first. Wait until someone orders your score in your webshop. Therefore, you have everything you want to sell on your webshop and once it is sold you upload and submit the order for production. Be prepared for that. Do not sell scores that are not engraved yet or in "disorder". It will make you a stress if you get an order but can't print it.
- Some of my music is for sale only, the rest is for hire. It means, once you get printed a piece, it mus be returned to you and therefore you have the complete material printed. The next time you get order, you don't need to print it again, you simply post it (costs are reduced!).
- The time between order (someone ordered a score) and production (submitting it to the production and ship) is very effective. You need to submit what to print and where to send. Almost even the simplest way is to forward the confirmation email of your order to Halstan for production. It is not more than a minute and you can do it even if you are ...on holidays. Comparing this with self-printing, self-binding and self-posting is out of question.

I hope it is helpful. Wishing you all a good luck!
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John Ruggero
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Re: How to effectively print/ship scores and to be competitive as a publisher?

Post by John Ruggero » 02 Aug 2019, 13:35

Great information, OCTO. Thanks so much!
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