The Credit Trap: Printers’ Terms Through a Printer’s Eyes

August 2005
by Ron Pramschufer

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Over the past 30 years I have
heard the statement “We’re not the bank” used hundreds of time by various
printers. This statement did not become crystal clear to me until I owned my
own publishing services business.

Now I realize that printers are
their own worst enemy when it comes to extending credit. I don’t know of a
single printer who does not complain about “slow pay” and “no pay” customers,
yet they continue to extend credit to publishers. The feeling is, “If we don’t
give them credit, they won’t buy from us.” In the case of a large,
well-established publisher, that is true. But major collection problems don’t
normally come from the large publishers. They normally come from the smaller publishers.

Pressures on Printers

Printers want to print, and the
competition is tough. If a salesperson brings a publisher that is capable of
spending several hundred thousand dollars on printing at the printer’s full
price, even the toughest printer’s finance department is hard pressed to refuse
credit unless the publisher is at the door of the bankruptcy court—and
sometimes, it seems to me, even then. I know of an East Coast publisher who
became famous for not paying his printers way back in the early ‘70s but
continued in business, stiffing printer after printer, until just a couple of
years ago.


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