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

Posted: 22 Jul 2019, 17:48
by OCTO
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 ( https://www.ingramcontent.com/publisher ... -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.

HALSTAN
My second discovery, in 2013, was Halstan, a large international company based in Germany (with printing also in UK and US, www.halstan-holdings.com ). 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!

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

Posted: 02 Aug 2019, 13:35
by John Ruggero
Great information, OCTO. Thanks so much!

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

Posted: 22 Aug 2019, 08:26
by benwiggy
Octo, you talk about being competitive, but the one thing you don't mention is price!

Cost savings in commercial printing are all about "the run-on", which is every copy you print after the first one. The unit cost keeps going down, the more copies you print. "Digital" printing (which is actually still a glorified laser printer) just reduces the start-up costs to make single-copy printing feasible. Of course, if you print more than you need, then you have to 'warehouse' them somewhere.

There's a balance to be struck between what the customer is prepared to pay and what the customer is prepared to accept. I'd love to produce my scores using offset litho on wood-free 128gsm Ivory high-opacity stock , sewn and case-bound in cloth with gold foil blocking. :lol: But I'd have to sell them at a much higher price. People ask me for discounts as it is!

I like to think my scores have 'reasonable' production values. The paper is has a good opacity and weight; the fore-edge is trimmed to remove the 'creep', so you can thumb the pages. I wire-bind scores over 80pp. But I have no idea what they're like after they've been held, and flicked, and thrown on the floor over a run of rehearsals.

For me, shipping is the real killer. 10 scores of 32pp on 100gsm paper weigh 1Kg. I send parcels weighing from 0.2Kg to 20Kg, costing from £1 to £100, depending on destination. Do I raise the price of all my scores to (hopefully) cover all shipping charges, or do I surprise my customers at the checkout with an extra £100? Do I reduce the weight of my paper for overseas orders?

And then of course, you get people asking if they can have a PDF instead, as they live in Australia and the rehearsal is tomorrow....

Oh, one other thing: try to use ISMN instead of ISBN. They cost much less, for starters!

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

Posted: 23 Aug 2019, 09:30
by OCTO
A quick answer:

The most of the music today (except type of Schubert "Complete Quartets" by Henle) is printed as print-on-demand. Being competitive means also reducing the price and keeping the quality. Almost all publishers do that, so that is a simple answer.

Litho is of course a different thing and very expensive. Until one reaches the size of Schott, litho is not feasible. For about 10 years ago I went to a printing house close to my place here in Stockholm and asked them for how much it would cost to print a book/score (litho offset). I sat in their office for 30 minutes and they gave me an offer. It was not so expensive, approx 3 €/$/£ book, and I could sell one for 15. I almost accepted it until I saw that the offer is 500 or 1000 or 2000 examples, even cheaper than. Not bad still, but when I saw 1000 books on a pile :eek: ... it is like 1,5 m3 size, and very heavy.... If you are not a warehouse, for a normal human it is not possible. This is size is only for ONE score/book, what about printing your catalog?

You have to calculate the costs, and I get this: with print on demand (mentioned above) you get
- extremely good quality (not offset)
- one setup costs that is incomparable to the order of magnitude 1000 scores (that could cost 3000£ - as starter - and here we speak about one score)
- you print what you sell, you never have more copies at home. Actually, you don't have any copy at home. They print and ship.

What I also like with Halstan, you have option for parts that is not Letter/A4. There is NE (New Edition) that perfectly matches needs for effective part production (240*320 mm) and they are - stapled.

Give me an example of one (or several) for your scores and I will give you an example of price.

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

Posted: 06 Sep 2019, 04:55
by OCTO
benwiggy wrote:
22 Aug 2019, 08:26
For me, shipping is the real killer. 10 scores of 32pp on 100gsm paper weigh 1Kg. I send parcels weighing from 0.2Kg to 20Kg, costing from £1 to £100, depending on destination. Do I raise the price of all my scores to (hopefully) cover all shipping charges, or do I surprise my customers at the checkout with an extra £100? Do I reduce the weight of my paper for overseas orders?
Indeed, you are not alone, that is really an issue. I ship to Europe, but also Hong Kong, Korea, US, Australia. I never sent anything to Africa nor Latin America... yet.
My philosophy is like this: flat-rate shipping and no reduced price for multiple copies. You can also have different shipping flat-rate prices depending of the location.
If a score costs 2€, for instance a simple sheet 8 pages (I guess you sell these), than there is NO reduced cost if one buys 32 scores for their choir. It is simple as that, you flag "flat rate shipping" and that's it. If you sell 100 copies, than it is 200€, if you have flat-rate shipping than you add 8€ to it, thus shipping -100 and production -25 (just blind guessing...) left 83.
If you reduce price for multiple copies than you don't have any option than to make a surprise, but maybe that can also work.

Remember also that some services above have the flat-rate deal with the sipping services. What it costs you 100€ can be 25.

Returning back to the topic....
I think you have to calculate the following:
- how much is your fee per hour (let us say 40€), than use that hour to print parts, bind, packet, post it. You will also calculate in the initial prices: the costs for paper, binding machine and tools, printer and tools (refill, repair etc).
- how much it costs to upload to the services I mentioned above, and how much it costs to print and ship.

Simple as it is, just put everything in a spreadsheet and it will show you the result.
You will also have to compare the final products, quality of products.