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A greeting card publisher’s guide to services and trade suppliers


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GREETING CARD AND COMMERCIAL ENVELOPES Over 400 Bespoke Envelope Sizes 8 Sizes Permanently in Stock Largest range of in-stock colours 100% Recycled Paper Available Stock & Bespoke Cello Bags Peel & Stick Envelopes Bespoke Service on Request

ORDER ON LINE AT: 01274 583000



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The Source his special publication is meant to be the ultimate


Every year we get inundated with requests for extra copies

handy reference guide for greeting card publishers,

of the Trade Source Book, and inevitably, although we do

whether start-ups, small, medium or large.

print extra copies, we do run out – so keep yours safe!

card publishing – from sourcing imagery to selecting the

the PG website as well as the GCA one.

Having said that, a downloadable version is available on

Each section covers an important element of greeting

Happy sourcing!

board and envelopes right through to selecting agents to sell the cards. We have packed in as many helpful hints and

Jakki Brown and Warren Lomax

considerations to take into account as we could, anticipating

Co-owners of Progressive Greetings Worldwide

the multifarious questions which publishers face.

PPS… Thanks also to many of trade suppliers who have helped

This industry is blessed with a host of specialist suppliers who are experts in their own fields, many of whom have

us with the editorial for the TSB, notably

advertised in this book. Talk to them, get comparative quotes

The Sherwood Press, The Imaging Centre, A la Carte,

and lap up the wealth of information they have to share.

GF Smith and Enveco.



12-13 FSC

Image Sourcing


15-21 23-27 Printing



10-11 Paper & Board

29-31 33-35 Cellobags


36 37-38 39-40 Overseas Production


Third Party Warehousing

41-42 Sales Agents

Trade Source Book is a sister publication to Progressive Greetings. It is published annually by Max Publishing T: 020 7700 6740 W: Contact: Warren Lomax – Copyright 2016. No part of this publication can be reproduced or used on websites without prior consent of publishers.




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Art & Design

The nuts and bolts of

Image Sourcing Whether illustrated or photographic, whether comic, serious or romantic, the image is at the heart of greeting card design. A publisher’s options for sourcing quality imagery varies from employing artists to work in house or commissioning freelancers to sourcing imagery from picture libraries, licensing agents or artists.

Design Options

Independent artists and photographers

Unless you have an in-house artist (illustrator or cartoonist) or photographer, or you’ve been fortunate to receive unsolicited work that fits the bill, you’ll need to source the images that serve as the basis of your card designs. Your options are: ● Independent/freelance artists and photographers ● Artists’ agents ● Picture libraries ● Licensing companies ● Royalty free online resources

Advantages ● Fresh ideas: Outside artists can bring refreshing new slants to your company’s card line. ● Outside influences: They may be aware of trends in related industries, ie, fashion, textiles and wallpaper. ● Payroll: Used only when needed.

Disadvantages ● Finding the right artist: Greeting card design

has its own demands. So unless the artist understands the industry, extra briefing time may be required. This can included explaining the target market, size and content of your range, intended board and finishes, deadlines, and how images should be submitted.

A Myriad Of Licensors In addition to the well known art and picture libraries, an increasing number of card publishers are signing licensing arrangements with a myriad of ‘brand owners’. The added advantage of pursuing this option is that the publisher can use the often well known consumer brand to add value to the product. Licensing deals operate on a royalty fee base, though often involve a publisher committing to a ‘minimum guarantee’ which has to be paid to the licensor by the publisher in the agreed timescale. Also important is to define the geographical area the licensing agreement covers.


Considerations ● Making time: For briefings – the all-

important first step in sourcing your image. ● Artist’s credits: Should the artist’s name be

featured on the card? ● Licensing: Must rights be obtained from the artist to use the images on other products? ● Payment: Which method – flat fee, fee and royalty, royalties, or advanced royalties?



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Art & Design



Art Libraries

● Knowledge and experience: Agents

represent experienced professionals who are accustomed to working to briefs and deadlines. Find one that knows the greeting card market.


● Delegation: It is the agent’s responsibility to

● New images/new artists: Libraries catalogue

source and brief a suitable artist or photographer, and to ensure that the brief is met and the work delivered on time. ● Art & publisher direction: Agents familiar with the greeting card market may be able to assume the art direction for the entire card design. They may also be able to help publishers find solutions to various sending situations with tight design parameters.

hundreds of new images each week and continually sign up new artists. This gives publishers access to a stream of new material, much of it unseen by the public. ● Research availability: Art libraries may offer research expertise and security for both publishers and artists. ● Savings: Art libraries provide a fast and efficient standardised licensing process. Reproduction fees are set in accordance to industry guidelines and cater to all budgets. Using a fine art image from a library can be more cost-effective that commissioning artwork. ● Copyright convenience: Leading art libraries may also act as the artists’ copyright agent.

● Greater choice: Art libraries offer a wide

selection of images, especially in fine art.

Disadvantages ● Loss Of Originality: The artists featured in an agent’s book could be producing work for other card publishers. ● Communication gap: Agents are sometimes reluctant to let the publisher talk directly to the artist. While this can prevent inadvertent misunderstandings (the agent gives the artist the initial brief ), it can reduce the publisher’s influence on the image and subsequent design.

Disadvantage ● Ownership: The publisher does not own the

artwork and is therefore subject to licensing fees and agreements. ● Originality: The publisher must choose from the images available which other publishers may have used.



● Fees: The agent takes his commission from the

● Creative direction: Publishers using websites

or CD-ROMs to source images should choose words such as ‘mood’, ‘colour’ or ‘emotion’ when doing their search. ● Licensing enquiries: If there are any doubts about the required licensing process, the publisher should contact the library. A license is required before reproduction. ● Image manipulation: Publishers should ask the library if they have the right to crop, adapt or write-over an image. ● Budget considerations: Publishers should advise the art library’s rights executive of their budget restrictions as soon as possible.

artist’s fee, not from the publisher.

“If a publisher is buying a design outright, they must make sure the agreement is put down in writing. To avoid any misunderstanding over royalties, a good, water-tight agreement must drawn up and signed by both parties.”




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The nuts and bolts of

Envelopes More than just a protective paper pocket, the envelope is an integral part of the total greeting card experience, enhancing the presentation and adding perceived value. Sourcing envelopes shouldn’t be an afterthought - it should be one of the first design decisions, especially as it’s cost effective to use one of the standard sizes.

Points to consider before sourcing

What to look for in an envelope

● Size: Remember that your envelope needs to

● Complementary design: Choose an

be larger than your cards or they won’t fit! ● Matching card design: Consider the colour, shape and type of envelope you’re after when planning the greeting card design. You may want to add a design element to the envelope itself. ● Value for Money: Value is not a matter of just choosing the cheapest option. Quality, service and delivery are as important as the pounds and pence cost.

envelope that complements the card within. Consider colour, shape and board. A quality card deserves a quality envelope. ● Weight: Check the envelope’s weight: is it worth paying extra for a higher grammage? ● Board: A good quality laid or bond board can be used for a variety of designs. ● Versatility: Some boards, like pearlescent, are available in a wide range of colours and quantities and accept all major types of print – litho, flexo, thermography, ink jet and bubble jet. ● Colours: Tinted envelopes certainly stand out, but may not be appropriate for all types of cards. ● Readability: Envelopes in dark colours or with shiny surfaces may be difficult to write on.

Choosing standard or bespoke It is always cost-effective to design greeting cards around standard sizes (see box). Printing cards even a few millimetres larger than a standard size will necessitate the added expense of bespoke envelopes. Part of the added expense of non-standard size bespoke is due to the cost of making a new cutter and the knock-on effect the size has on the rest of the packaging.


● Problem papers: Translucents are prone to cracking and creasing, and may show gum lines. ● Increased costs: Specialty and non-standard papers may be significantly more expensive.



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Quality Bespoke Envelopes! From 5,000 quantity to many millions we can produce excellent quality envelopes for you. Plain, printed, coloured & textured ďŹ nish. 100% recycled & FSC available. Please call us on 01274 581327 with your enquiry or email us on

We will be delighted to help!

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Envelopes ● Professional Advice: Be proactive about

“If you use bespoke envelopes, ask your envelope manufacturer to keep a record of the sizes you use. They can then contact you when they are running that size for someone else. By tagging your order to the back of another, you get the envelope you want at a sensible cost. Look for value, not just the cheapest price. Take into account quality, service and delivery.”

getting advice from envelope manufacturers and suppliers. Being well informed can save you time, money and problems down the line. ● Recommendations: Don’t be afraid to get

opinions from fellow publishers and your other suppliers – designers, printers, finishers, bag companies – before making your final decision.

Glossary Wallet: Flap on long edge of envelope Pocket: Flap on short edge Diamond flaps (banker envelopes): Envelopes with a triangle-shaped flap Straight wallet flaps: Envelopes with a straight flap

Royal Mail Issues Royal Mail continues to implore publishers to steer away from darker coloured envelopes as these are difficult or impossible for the UK’s post office machines to process automatically. Royal Mail would also like publishers to include a section on the envelope where the sender could include their address to make returning misaddressed cards possible.

Coloured or plain

Coloured Advantages: ● Coloured cards and envelopes catch the attention of prospective purchasers. Disadvantages: ● Potential difficulties matching coloured cards and envelopes. ● Due to outsourcing, colours of a line may vary ● Deep colours obscure the writing on the envelope. ● Longer delivery times due to post office processing procedures.

Standard Sizes 133mm x 184mm 114mm x 162mm 125mm x 175mm (European size) 133mm x 133mm 133mm x 235mm 143mm x 200mm 159mm x 235mm 159mm x 311mm (Jumbo slims) 105mm x 234mm 102mm x 127mm 235mm x 311mm

= 5” x 7” cards = C6 cards = 5” x 7” cards = = = = =

square cards 5” x 9” cards Code 50 cards 9” x 6” cards 6” x 12” cards

Plain Advantages: ● Greater versatility. Disadvantages: ● Less eye-catching on the display stand.

= slims = small cards = 9” x 12” cards





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The nuts and bolts of

Paper & Board Sourcing the right board is an essential first step for achieving the aesthetic – and the feel you want for a range. The choice is vast, the possibilities endless.

What you need to know before placing an order for board

So where do you begin? Getting started – a note of warning to publishers The board you use is an integral part of a greeting card’s design and, ultimately, its message. Even the best artwork will fail to achieve full impact if the stock used is unsuitable to the printing and finishing requirements. Careful board selection, therefore, is a must. So remember 1. Watch out for false economies: Sourcing board is not strictly a matter of price: if the board doesn’t have the qualities you need, it won’t give you best value for the money. What’s cheapest in the short term may not be least expensive option in the long run. 2. Choose a reputable supplier: Look for someone you can talk to and who you trust to give sound technical advice.You’re interested in purchasing board that meets your artistic needs and budget; your supplier is looking for return business from a satisfied customer.

“Board for greeting cards has to be suitable for many different finishes and board producers should be included in project discussions as early as possible.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS


● The board’s weight or grammage (gsm): 270gsm is a standard weight for greeting card board, though this can be reduced for smaller cards (eg 250gsm) or increased for larger cards or those finished with heavy items (eg 300gsm). ● The sheet sizes the chosen board comes in: Depending on the size of the press, litho printing can take sheets up to A2 in size. Digital printing presses normally use A3 sheets. NB Prices charged by printers are determined, to a large extent, by the number of sheets used per job. Designing with sheet size in mind can lead to an efficient use of stock. ● Whether the board is coated or uncoated (see Coated vs Uncoated). ● The kind of ink the board can take and whether it requires special inks. ● Whether the board is suitable to 4-colour printing. ● Whether it comes in a variety of colours and coatings. ● Whether it is suitable for special finishes, ie, foiling, embossing, die-cutting, laser cutting, flittering and glitter. ● Whether the supplier can offer technical advice about the board’s suitability for litho or digital printing and specialist techniques such as foil blocking, embossing and thermography. ● Whether the board can be used to make envelopes (to match the greeting card). ● Whether free proofing sheets are available.


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Additional questions to ask before purchasing

“Beautiful tactile boards have an intuitive touch that becomes an integral part of the card design.”

● Are the weight and finish of the board suitable for the job? ● Can board weight be reduced (thus reducing costs) without compromising performance? ● Are test samples available (for weight, bulk and rigidity)? ● What are the availability and continuity of supply? ● What is the minimum order of the particular stock?

Coated Vs Uncoated Board

Coated board

“In today’s fashion-led market, even more speciality and creative materials are being introduced.”

Advantages Sharp images and punchy finishes. Disadvantages Not all designs work on coated sheets.

Uncoated board Advantages Huge selection of board. Good choice of tactile finishes and colours. Disadvantages Images that work on coated board may not work on uncoated. Brightness of colour and sharpness of design are less distinct.

Glossary of Board Board: Paper over 170gsm Calendered: Smooth or polished paper. Caliper: Thickness of a single sheet, expressed in microns. Embossed: A finishing technique whereby steel rollers, engraved with the desired texture, emboss a pattern into the fabric of the paper. Done with a press. Felt Marked: A texture given to the board which mimics the roughness of the felt. Laid: Paper with vertical and horizontal lines that appear when held up to light. Paper: Substrates up to and including 170gsm. Pearlised: Paper that has been ‘pearl’ coated, usually on one side. Rigidity: The force required to bend a strip of paper or board to a specific angle. Varnishing (gloss or matt): A thin layer of varnish, applied by litho press, that covers either the entire board or a specific area (spot varnishing). UV: Varnish applied by a litho press fitted with a drier.



Trends – tactility and texture are in! For example: ● Translucent papers, particularly with unusual textures and features ● Felt marks ● Pearlescents ● Deckled-edged papers ● Uncoated texture boards ● Textured board with a light surface coating, for longer ink life and brighter image

“Publishers should run trials on different stock to preview the final look and feel.”



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All About

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) The wider availability of FSC-certified board, coupled with the consumer pressure for more environmentally-friendly products has seen a growing number of publishers move towards using FSC substrates. Here, TSB demystifies the main points of confusion around FSC can use FSC boards and the FSC label.

What is FSC? The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) FSC provides global standards for forest management which cover a balance of environmental, social and economic aspects. Using FSC board enables a publisher to demonstrate, through independent certification, that the substrate used comes from well managed sources and exclude the risk of using illegally logged timber or funding conflict.

Using FSC certified papers and boards

For greeting cards to carry they FSC label (logo) they need to be printed under an FSC chain of custody certificate. Publishers do not need to be certified themselves as the certificate holder is generally the printer, and it is their chain of custody (CoC) number that is printed as part of the label on the cards.

Publisher FSC Certification Greeting card publishers can also apply for their own certification and CoC number and either outsource their printing or print in-house. Holding FSC certification means that a publisher is free source their own FSC board and to use any printer (certified or uncertified) to complete its print jobs under an outsourcing policy. Publishers can then apply their own licence number as part of the FSC label.

FSC certified papers and boards are widely available. Most FSC certified paper carries either an FSC Mix or an FSC Recycled claim. FSC Mix products can contain a mix of virgin and recycled fibre and may also include limited amounts of uncertified, but thoroughly risk assessed, material. FSC Recycled products are made using verifiably recycled materials, 85% of which must be post-consumer reclaimed.


Using an FSC certified printer



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Questions and Answers

Using the FSC Labels

Q: Do I have to hold FSC certification to publish FSC labelled cards? A: No, but your printer must be FSC certified and it must source the board on your behalf. You may wish to become certified as it gives you more flexibility to source your board, chose or to change your print supplier. Q: Do I have to hold an FSC trademark licence to publish FSC labelled cards? A: No, the FSC license is for using the logo on your advertising or promotional activities. Q: I am publishing FSC labelled cards but I am selling them with non-FSC envelopes, is this ok? A: Yes, the label only refers to the product on which it is printed. However you should avoid implying that the envelopes are also certified Q: We do not hold FSC certification and neither does our printer but, as they are printing on FSC paper, can I state ‘Printed on FSC certified paper’ on the cards? A: No, FSC and the name Forest Stewardship Council are registered trademarks and such text only claims are not allowed. Q: Will I have to submit every card design to the certification body for approval? A: The approvals process is managed the FSC certificate holder. A generic format may be approved for use on all your cards as long as an approved FSC label is being properly used and the printer is considered to have good track record by its certification body. Q: Does my finishing company also need to be FSC certified? A: No – by this time the cards are already printed with the logo, so the finishing company does not need to be certified.

The FSC uses the term ‘label’ to mean its logo, so a label does not in this case mean a sticky label! This is an example of a full product label. Labels can also be shown in positive and negative green, or black and white, and can be printed in either landscape or portrait orientation. FSC labels generally carry the licence number of the organisation/company that has applied them. Mini labels, such as these can be applied to cards up to an A5 size limit. Officially all uses of the FSC trademarks must be approved by the FSC accredited certification body of the company which applies the label. However, some FSC certificate holders (ie a publisher’s printer) may have an established record of good use and, provided they have adhered to the rules for using the label, should not need to resubmit designs using same label to their certification body. It is possible to produce the FSC label in a different colour other than green or black, but this will require special approval via your printer’s certification body.

● This information appears on a factsheet

produced by the GCA in conjunction with FSC.



Getting an FSC Trademark Licence Publishers which sell FSC-labelled cards, can also apply to FSC UK for a trademark licence. Trademark licences allow the use of the FSC trademarks in licence holder’s promotional activities. The FSC labels and trademarks can then be used on websites, in catalogues, in environmental reports, on point of sale, in advertising and other promotions. There is an annual fee for the licence.


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YOUR MANUFACTURING PARTNER FOR VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS English speakingproduction team,pricesquoted insterling...andonly 3daysdelivery toTHEUK...

Really... andtheres noVATtopayor customsprocedures either...that'sa greatdeal!

• Hand made and hand finished greeting cards • Boxed sets and acetate packs of cards / envelopes • Giftwrap and tag packs • Individually open and closed wrapped cards • 'Pop up' and cardboard engineered products • Notelets and social stationery • Specialised printing on plastics & lenticular For production enquiries, estimates etc., please contact our UK Agent:

Rob Pearson 07710 132 232 FSC accredited (BV-COC-002485). Audited member of SMETA. Printing to ISO12674-2 standard.

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The nuts and bolts of

Digital And Litho Printing The last few years has seen great strides being made on both the digital and litho printing fronts. The big message though is to stick to using printers which specialise in greeting cards.

The Two Methods

Starting Points

There are two different types of printing processes used in greeting card publishing – traditional litho or digital. Traditional litho is the favoured route for publishers for whom committing to printing 1,000 sheets of cards (which would result in 14,000 5” x7” cards being printed) makes economic, logistical and practical sense. The evolution of digital printing in recent years has made fundamental changes to the publishing of greeting cards, especially for start up companies. While the unit cost of digitally printed cards is higher than the traditional litho route, it offers a variable option to do much smaller print runs, which is ideal for market testing, samples and for those publishers who do not generate high volume sales. Even established publishers, which may use litho printing for the bulk of their production, also use digital for samples or ‘fill in’ stock requirements. Also while it used to be that digital printers did not offer finishing facilities, there are now moves to offer these.


The greeting card industry is blessed with specialist printers who have earned their respected reputations by ensuring that publishers receive the result they desire on colour, sharpness and presentation. There are several points that specialist printers will want to discuss with publishers. These include: ● Size of the cards? ● What material are the cards to be printed on? ● How will the artwork will be supplied? ● What text and graphics are required for the inside and/or rear of the card? ● Are the cards to be barcoded and/or use the FSC board (see separate section for the latter). ● What finishes are required (eg foiling, flittering)? ● How does the publisher want to proof (ie check) the job? ● Is the printer to supply the board, envelopes or bags or will these be supplied by the publisher? ● Where are the cards to be sent for storage and distribution? ● What timeframe is the publisher envisaging? And of course all these will have a bearing on the costs.



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Our services include: • artworking • digital pre-press • digital sample printing

• flittering • folding • bagging

• foiling • embossing • diecutting

• picking and packing • distribution

To To discuss how we could work with you contact Simon King

Tel: Tel: 0115 928 7766 Email:

Hadden Court, Glaisdale Parkway, Glaisdale Drive West, Nottingham, NG8 4GP.

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Sheet Sizes Litho and digital printers print on different sized sheets of board, meaning that a different number of greeting card designs are printed at the same time. Litho printers use B1 and B2 sheets, with B1 being the most common. B1 – 720 x 1020 mm B2 – 720 x 520 mm Digital printers use SRA3 sheets, which are much smaller and therefore print fewer designs at any one time. SRA3 – 320 x 450mm

“A visit to your potential greeting card printer will give you a full picture of their capabilities - whether they can produce your greeting cards creating the effect you require, cost effectively.”

How Many Cards Fit On A B1 Sheet? Standard Card Sizes

No of cards on a sheet

Flat size

Finished size

7” x 5”

13 14 16 15 9 23 4 12 12 14 17 20 24 30 36





Up to 172x250mm

Up to 172x125mm

























7” x 5” euro 8” x 4” 9” x 6” 7” x 3” 12” x 9” Squares




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The home of greeting cards t ependen d n i g n i lead r The UK’s ufacture n a m d r ca greeting j_ed

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The Economic Cross Over Point There are different costs associated with litho and digital printing. When cards are being printed on a traditional litho press, the printer has to prepare ‘plates’, set up the press (referred to as ‘make ready’) and then print the cards. The inherent costs of this preparatory work mean that the unit cost reduces as the volume increases, as the set up costs are amortised. The digital printer, on the other hand has no platemaking or ‘make ready’ to speak of, so his costs are generally fixed. If he prints 10 cards or 1,000 cards the unit costs will be the same. As a rough guide, litho and digital greeting card printers accept that the most cost effective crossover point from digital to litho printing is when a publisher is confident enough to produce 1,000 sheets.

Glossary of Print ● Artwork - Original drawings, graphics, photography and text. Artwork can be supplied as individual items or be combined on paper or board or onto a computer disk. ● Author’s Corrections - Corrections to proofs made by the customer or author that change the original artwork. ● Back Up - Artwork printed on the reverse side of the sheet. ● Bar Codes - A code printed on the sheet where bars and spaces are used to represent numbers and letters. Bar codes are used for stock control and retail information. ● Bleed - Print that runs off the edges of the printed sheet so that no unexpected white edges show when the sheets are trimmed to size. ● CMYK (four colour process) - Cyan, magenta, yellow and black - the four standard process colours used for colour printing. ● Colour (Control) Bar - A bar printed on the PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS


sheet showing the colours in the job. Used during the printing process to check the density and quality of the printing inks. ● Colour Proofing - A wide range of processes used to create a facsimile of the final job. Proofing can be carried out by digital or traditional processes. Colour proofs are used by the client to confirm the required result and by the printer during the printing process to confirm that the job is being printed accurately. ● Colour Separation - The process of separating colour images into the relevant process colours that will be used to produce printing plates. ● CtP (computer-to-plate) - The process of producing printing plates directly from computer images without the necessity of producing colour separated film first. ● Debossing - A sunken image on card or paper created by using an uninked die. ● Die-Cutting - Using a die to cut out shapes or elements of the printed job. ● Digital Printing - A printing process which takes digital data directly from a computer and images it using a digital printing press. ● Embossing - A raised image on card or paper created by using an uninked die. ● EPS (encapsulated PostScript file) - One of the standard computer file formats used for graphics and text data such as photographs and logos. ● Finishing - The processes applied to a job after printing, including folding, stapling, die-cutting, embossing etc. ● GSM/GM2 - Grams per square metre – a measure used to determine the weight of the paper/board being used. (With special thanks to The Sherwood Press and The Imaging Centre for their input for this section).



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Printing ● Hot Foil - Metal foil applied to the substrate using heat and pressure. ● Imagesetter - An extremely high quality laser printer that prints using light onto photographic film with all elements of the artwork combined. The film is then used to create printing plates. ● Imposition - Planning pages or images together to maximise the economy of the printing press being used. ● ISO 9000 - Internationally recognised quality management standard awarded to a company after a lengthy and arduous qualification and evaluation process. ● ISO 14001 - An evironmental standard. ● Litho - The most common method of printing for greeting cards. Ink is transferred from a printing plate to the substrate via a blanket. ● Make Ready - The processes involved in preparing a printing press for a print run. ● Moire - A pattern that can occur in print. Can happen when the colours are printed at the wrong angles and clash, or if previously screened items are re-screened. ● Overs - An extra number of finished product, run to cover wastage. ● Pantone - Pantone Inc. is an international organisation that has produced a number of colour standards. Pantone colours from the Pantone Matching System (PMS Numbers) are recognised all over the world. ● PDF (Portable document format file) - It can be opened, viewed and printed on nearly any computer system. ● Registration - The printing of two or more colours together to make a composite image. When printing in four colour, all plates need to be in register to each other to achieve the correct final result. ● Reprographics (Repro) - The transfer of PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS


data from photographs, images and computer into a format that can be printed. ● RIP (Raster Image Processor) - A computer system, either hardware or software, which interprets the information held in a digital file and converts it into the necessary dots required for printing. ● Screen Angles - When printing the dots in a four colour separation, these need to be printed at different angles so as to avoid the dots clashing with each other and producing a moire pattern. ● Screening - A measure of how many dots are used. Screening is usually measured in lines per inch or lines per centimetre. The higher the number of lines, the higher the quality of the image. ● Separation - The process where colour images are separated into their component parts, either single colours or into a process colour mix such as CMYK. ● Spot Colour - An area of colour not created by using a CMYK mix, but by using a single coloured ink to produce a specified colour, usually a Pantone PMS colour. ● Stochastic Screening - A method of producing colour separations without using halftone dots. Because the information is not produced using dots, colour angles are not relevant and moire screen clashes can’t occur. ● TIFF ( Tagged image file format) - One of the standard computer file formats used for graphic data such as photographs and logos. Because the data is defined as dots, the quality of the image is restricted to a maximum size. ● Visual - A concept document of the design drawn manually or computer generated. Usually produced in colour to give an impression of the finished job.



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The nuts and bolts of

Finishes Finishes have become very much an integral part of a greeting card concept, adding perceived value and making a design/range stand out on a crowded display. The choices are great, the combinations limitless and they all serve to add to the tactile and aesthetic attraction.

Will the finish be worth the added expense?

Points to consider before deciding on the finish(es)

● All decorative finishes are an added cost. Some

great ideas may not prove cost-effective, especially if the card run is short. ● Less can be more. Depending on the card design, a simple finish can be just as effective as one that uses great helpings of the latest trends. ● Some finishes are cheaper than others as they can be done by a publisher’s printer, while others are more specific (eg. laser cutting).

Sparkling Effects – Flitter and Glitter What is ‘flitter’? A production process by which card is covered with glitter, producing a sparkling effect. This creates a more expensive and ‘girly’ look.

want may be a combination of several finishing techniques. It is important to understand how an effect is achieved. ● Talk to the pros: Include printers/specialist finishers early in the design process. They can advise on the finishes available, how an effect can be created, and suggest alternative finishing solutions. ● Test before you buy: Carry out tests to ensure that your board and finish are compatible. Different papers, boards and inks react differently to individual finishes. ● One-stop shopping: Check if your printer provides an in-house finishing service.

Disadvantages of flitter

Advantages of flitter ● Customer appeal: Flittered cards stand out on

a crowded display stand. ● Continuing popularity: There is a close

correlation between fashion and greeting cards. As long as sparkling and ‘girly’ products are popular, flitter will remain in style.


● Getting the desired effect: The finish you

● Added expense: Flittered cards are more expensive to produce than non-flittered. Difficulties in applications: ● Glitter materials cannot be applied on a rollerinking press because the sparkles pile up and separates from the ink. ● Applying glitter onto glue is difficult to control

and the effect can be patchy.



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Producing greeting cards for over 30 years


01622 710 759 188 Forstal Road â&#x20AC;˘ Aylesford â&#x20AC;˘ Kent ME20 7DB


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Finishes ● Glitter can only be applied by silk screening if

What is thermography?

the particle size is small. However, brightness and sparkle can be lost if the glitter becomes buried in the ink.

A process of fixing flitter to board by mixing the flitter material with a special powder and heating. Thermographic Effects ● A wide range of colours can be produced, including metallics and pearl effects. ● A particular colour can be enhanced or an overall gloss can be laid on a pre-printed image. ● Glitter flakes can be blended with thermographic powder in various proportions to create a range of effects, from encapsulated light flitter to a rough, solid texture. ● Thermography gives more texture than embossing spot UV by achieving a deeper raise off the sheet. It can also be combined with embossing.

What are the main types of glitter? ● Semi-transparent (Crystalina or Disco)

This glitter produces a range of mother-of-pearl effects. When applied with transparent ink, it allows the colours of the greeting card design show through and so it can be added to virtually any design. The most commonly used semi-transparent among publishers is Crystalina H322. ● Mirror-Backed: An opaque and often very bright glitter made from polyester material. It is often used in traditional applications, such as Christmas cards, and comes in a wide range of colours. Different coloured mirror-backed glitters can be mixed to give a denser effect. Appealing effects can be created by mixing mirror-backed glitters with thermo powders especially pearlescent powders - or by printing onto coloured inks. ● Alpha Jewels is a special glitter cut from holographic foil.

Developments in glitter Encapsulated glitter technique by which glitter flakes are suspended in clear varnish. ● Use of darker glitters such as brown and navy, and frosted, contemporary Christmas glitters. ● Enhancing definition and impact through experimentation with different types and colours of mirror-backed glitter.



Finishing with foil Foils create effects that attract customer and sell product. However, the process carries an extra cost as it is often necessary to pass the board through the press several times. Publishers can reduce costs by involving a trade foiler at the foiling stage in order to get as many cards as possible onto a sheet of board.

Glossary of finishing 3DE: 3D engraving. Acetate: A clear or frosted vinyl sheet that can be used to cover the top of card fronts. The acetate may include design and/or editorial. Blind embossing die: An engraved plate, normally made from a soft metal such as magnesium, that can be behind or machine cut and used to raise the image on a greeting card. Christmas: This winter celebration also refers to name of flake, colour 731, occasionally used in thermographic finishing.



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PJ Print (London) The Capitals only Greetings card printer Guess what what ? We now offer a short run digital print service to the greeting card industry

Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s handy if you only want 100 copies

PJ - PRINT E-mail: The Print Works Colville Road, Acton London W3 8BL tel 020 8993 5160 fax 020 8992 8421

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Finishes Counter force: Male version of an embossing die. It is made by contact moulding and is used to force the image of the material of the card. Crystalina: Trade term used by the Faust Corporation of America in relation to flake products used in thermography. Multi-coloured, iridescent Crystalina is the full title for what is often referred to as flitter. De-bossing: Sinking an image on a card.

“If a publisher is using a technique that’s new to him, he should speak with the manufacturer at the design stage. He’ll get the technical help and advice that will ensure that time and money are wasted later down the line.” Die-cutting: Cutting unique shapes into a greeting card. Disco: A term interchangeable with ‘flitter’. Equally imprecise. Embossing: A metal die is used to create a raised impression on a blank piece of paper or a picture. Fine detail embossing: The die is handengraved to various depths and curvatures. Flitter: A production process that involves the cards being affixed with glitter to produce a sparkling effect. Imprecise term usually used in relation to glitter – like the flake-based finishes created using thermography. Often refers specifically to the multi-coloured, iridescent flakes widely used in the greeting card industry. Foiling/hot foiling: Hot foil is stamped onto a card to create a shiny effect. The die is heated in the press and the foil is stamped into the card.




Glitter: Imprecise term. Can refer to flake of any colour. Most commonly used to create irridescent sparkly finishes using thermography. Holographic foiling: Foil featuring a holographic pattern or image. Laser cutting: A specialist process which enables very detailed shapes to be cut in board, often creating a filigree effect. This is achieved through 'burning' sections of board that the publisher would like to have removed. Pearlescent: Finish with a ‘pearl like’ appearance. Can be created using thermography. Can also have a slightly metallic appearance. Available in many colours. Puff: Soft, puff-like finish (very textured) created using thermography. Thermography: Raised finish similar to embossing. It is used for a variety of effects including neutral pearlescent and flake finishes. Available in many colours. Virko: From the Virkotype Corporation, manufacturers of thermographic equipment. It is the name given to the texture and colour attached to greeting cards by thermography. Once in the press, a special powdered compound is dusted onto the paper and fused by ink to the fresh ink. Raised lettering or designs are made with this process.

“Publishers must take into consideration the cost of a finishing technique and the item’s sales costs. If they aren’t doing the quantities, the finish they’ve chosen may not be viable.”


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Greetings Card Printing Service • Runs from 50 to 1,000s of cards • • Multiple designs per quantity •

• Free design service • •

Easy on-line ordering • or

01363 777101 W Envelopes and cello wraps also available.

Unit 3, Creedy Vale, Down End, Lords Meadow Industrial Estate, Crediton, Devon EX17 1HN

01363 777101

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The nuts and bolts of


Whether for branding, adding perceived value or protection, many publishers now ‘wrap up’! TSB picks up on some pointers about what to consider when ordering your cellobags.

Finding the cellobag company: steps to take and points to consider

What you should know

● Locating a supplier: Consult trade publications (such as Progressive Greetings) or ask a fellow publisher or your other suppliers to recommend a specialist. ● Provide a sample: Send prospective bag suppliers a complete sample of your greeting card package (card, envelope, logo and add-ons) to find out if they can meet your requirements. ● Get a sample: Ask to see samples whether oriented polypropylene (OPP), cast polypropylene (CPP) or compostable bags. Note their appearance and quality and check for straight, clean-cut seals and any distortions. ● Standard or bespoke: Can the company supply from stock or will bespoke bags need to be made? ● Source of bags: Does the company produce and/or print bags or get them from out-of-house sources? ● Quantity: What are the minimum quantities? ● In-house services: Can the supplier also produce seals, labels or self-seal tape. (If not, contact a specialist label company such as Exclusive Seals). ● Delivery times: Can the company meet your delivery dates, especially for big-selling seasonal occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s and Father’s Days.



Before placing an order ● Size of bag ● Thickness of bag ● Quantity ● Bag material (CPP, OPP or biodegradable) ● Whether the bags will be plain or printed ● Whether glue strips will be needed ● Whether a header is needed ● Whether a Euro slot is needed (see Glossary)

“Publishers should work with their bag supplier to ensure the best possible fit. Whether it’s for a single card and envelope or for a multi-pack, there’s always an optimal point where the fit is snug and the packing is easy.” ● Responsibility: Find out who to address should order problems arise. ● Before-the-run samples: Ask whether it is possible to see test samples before the run begins.


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Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available



T 01206 396209 E

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“When asking a bag company for a quote, find out if the price includes delivery and whether or not the bags come with self-sticking tape.” Biogdegradable Bags

Glossary of Bags ● PP: ● OPP: ● CPP: ● Low slip: ● High slip: ● Flow wrapping: ● Hot foil: ● Euro slot: ● Side weld: ● Self-seal: ● Lay down: ● PLA

Polypropylene. Orientated polypropylene. Cast polypropylene. Enables ease of packing. Easy to get the card into the bag. Stacking is not as easy. Cards wrapped from reels. Putting silver or gold foil onto the bags. Hanging perforation in header. Sealed on both sides. Bags with self-adhering seals. The plan. Corn Starch bio-degradable bag made from Polylactide acid (PLA) are considered ‘greener’ as they are compostable in certain conditions.

OPP vs CPP Why choose OPP ● Oriented polypropylene (OPP), a high gloss, high clarity film, gives extra sparkle to the greeting cards’ presentation. It is currently the industry standard. ● It is ideal for wrapping packages containing only one card and envelope. ● OPP film is clearer and more resistant to creasing than CPP. Why choose CPP ● Cast polypropylene (CPP) is a strong film with better ‘slip’ characteristics than OPP. ● Allows for quick and easy replacement of cards in a spinner.



Biodegradable film is manufactured from corn starch, an annually renewable resource that is both fully biodegradable and compostable. Under industrial conditions (58°C) the bags will break down into carbon dioxide and water within 45 days. The film itself exhibits the same levels of high clarity, good shine and good rigidity as polypropylene.

Bags Of Room It used to be that a cellowrapped card was often equated with a ‘lower priced’ product, the cellowrapping providing protection in often dusty retail environments. The last decade has seen cellowrapping come very much back in vogue. There are now very few ‘art’ or handmade ranges that are not cellowrapped, the bags elevating their ‘specialness’ and providing a branding tool for publishers. It is not just the act of cellowrapping that adds a ‘quality personality’ to the product, but the design and positioning of the branding. Publishers now experiment much more with this element. Do they want a ‘tip over’ insert inside the bag, an affixed label on the outside, a header addition or the branding printed directly on the bag (especially now holographic foil is an option)? Most exciting though has been the development of bio-degradable bags, made from corn starch which several publishers are now using and many other are considering it. There is, it seems, ‘bags of room’ for branding options!


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The Professional and Caring Approach..

... to 3rd Party Warehouse, Distribution and Hand Finishing needs. With over 25 years experience in the Greeting Card and Gift Industry, we specialise in providing a very fast yet efficient and friendly service to all of our customers. Our close links to the port of Felixstowe allowing excellent access for both UK and overseas business.

We would be happy to talk to you and provide further information please contact either: James Smithies on 01449 778360 e: Tracy Davies on 01449 778363 e: Please visit our website at for further information.

Your Success Is Our Success

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Third Party Warehousing


All About Third Party

Warehousing Contracting a warehouse and distribution company to store and dispatch your cards not only allows a publisher to react quickly and efficiently to orders, reorders and changing market trends, it also lets publishers concentrate on their core business: creating and selling greeting cards. Third party warehousing is the general term for businesses that handle the process of taking a publisher’s product and delivering the finished cards to the retailer. There are a number of third party operators who specialize in greeting cards – these are worth using as they are adept at understanding the industry’s nuances. A publisher needs to have attained a level of turnover and be generating enough orders to make it worth while for the third party operator to enter into the agreement as payment is based on a percentage of orders handled. (These minimums vary from one third party operator to another). Third party warehouses do not all offer the same services. A publisher will need to think about what they want. Will they receive orders directly from agents/retailers/distributors? Raise delivery notes? Raise invoices? Collect payments? Undertake credit control? Manage stock? Provide computerised reports?

Choosing a third party warehouse operator ● Bricks and mortar: What is the capacity of the warehouse and what condition is it in? Will your stock be kept clean and dry? Can the warehouse accommodate growth and seasonal surges?



Know what you’re looking for You’ve weighed up the pros and cons of contracting a warehouse and decided to take the plunge. What steps should you take? ● See it for yourself: Visit several warehouses and talk with the management. Make sure that all your questions are answered. ● Track record: Does the company have a reputation for reliable and efficient service? ● Specialist knowledge: Does the company understand the requirements of the greeting card industry? Are they greeting card specialists? ● Compatibility: Are the warehouse’s operating systems - including software suitable to your business? ● Comfort level: Will the company value your business and treat you as an important part of their operation? ● Additional services: Does the company provide services in addition to pick, pack and dispatch, such as sales order processing, credit control, debt collection, invoicing, card assembly and finishing, bag supply and manufacture? ● Two-way street: Invite the company’s management to come and see your publishing operation. Give them honest, up-to-date information.


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LB Warehousing (Women in Transport & Logistics Finalist) S AME DAY order turnaround A CCURATE fulfilment and same day turn round V ALUE ADDED only as you sell the product E XCLUSIVELY Greeting Cards D EDICATED Account Managers With an excellent reputation we work as an integral part of your TEAM bringing much more than fulfilment. Our costing structure is SIMPLE and TRANSPARENT. We carry out ALL aspects of hand finishing and assembly and provide whatever ADDITIONAL services YOU need Our select team of outworkers carefully hand wrap any size or format of cards urgently, OVERNIGHT!

We CARE about your product as much as you do. Attention to detail, QC Issues and IT supported by a comprehensive paper trail for all stock movements are our hallmarks. Our CAN DO approach means that WE solve your problems. Outsourcing your warehousing operation releases your time to CREATE/MARKET/SELL/ MANAGE/GROW THE BUSINESS YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS, please visit our web site and see what OUR customers say, then to find out more call Lynda Raymond and perhaps we can arrange to meet and discuss your needs I am sure that we can help.

LB Warehousing, Units 1, 2 &3 Wayside Warehouses, Toseland, Near St. Neots, Cambridgeshire. PE19 6RX Tel 01480 880800 Fax 01480880900 Mobile 07889 399341

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Third Party Warehousing ● Order turnaround: How quickly are orders dispatched? ● Price: How much does the company charge and how do the charges break down? ● Packing proficiency: How many cards will be initially packed and how quickly can subsequent cards be packed? ● Stock control: Which stock system is used? ● E-technology: Is the company conversant with e-technology and willing to grow with it? ● Special occasions: Can the company dedicate its services in special or extraordinary circumstances? ● Carriers: Which carrier companies does the warehouse use? ● Delivery attempts: How many delivery attempts are made? ● Package handling: Do the packages arrive in good condition? ● Compensation: What compensation does the company offer for lost or damaged packages? ● References: Ask publishers who use or have used the warehouse for their opinions of the service.

Ensuring operations run smoothly ● Set lead times: Adequate, realistic lead times concerning the arrival, packing and dispatching of stock must be set from the start. This is especially crucial in peak seasons. ● Dead stock: Dead or discontinued stock places a strain on space and finances and should be removed from the warehouse as soon as possible. ● Keeping the information flowing: Publishers need to let the warehouse know its product development plans well in advance.



Advantages of a third party operator ● Releases the publisher’s time, space and personnel for design, licensing and sales. ● Places the logistics of packing and distribution into the hand of specialists. ● Affords cheaper carriage rates and packing charges due to the warehouse’s high volume traffic. ● Can ensure better availability of the publisher’s products at point of sale. ● Frees the publisher from the headaches of seasonal demand. Instead of having to recruit extra staff to accommodate busy times, the third party operator takes the strain. ● Gives the publisher greater flexibility on premises as there is no longer a need for warehousing or despatch area.

Glossary of Warehousing and Distribution ● Third party warehousing: General term for businesses that handle the process of storing a publishers product and delivering the finished product to the retailer. ● Singles and 6s/12s: Cards individually wrapped and packed in sets of six or 12. ● Packs: Cards packed in 6s/12s but not individually wrapped. ● Raw stock: Unpacked cards. ● Finished stock: Packed cards. ● Dead stock: Cards not being supplied to retailers. ● Components: Envelopes, bags, stickers, displays, etc. ● Cellos: Cellophane bags in which cards are packed.

“Third party warehousing helps publishers maintain lower overheads, releases capital and allows them to concentrate on their core business of creating and selling new product lines.” 35


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The nuts and bolts of

Export Sales The UK leads the world in greeting card design so it is not surprising that UK publishers are something of a honeypot for overseas greeting card distributors.

Some guidelines for export enquiries: ● Export pricing: The general rule of thumb on pricing for export sales is 50% of the UK trade price.This is the starting point. Generally distributors will pay for all shipping costs, the most a publisher would be expected to do is to transport the cards to their shipping agent in the UK. However, overseas retailers generally expect the publisher to pay for shipping. ● Payment terms: It is not unusual for an overseas distributor to pay upfront in full on proforma – or half of the amount at least for the first order. Once a working relationship is established this would move to 30, 60 or 90 days credit. ● Exclusivity: Some overseas distributors cover more than one country, but only have one distributor for each country. ● Global appeal: The majority of overseas distributors will be looking to take on a line of greeting cards that can fill a spinner (a popular way of displaying cards in Europe and elsewhere in the world). Given the language barriers, blank cards or minimum text obviously broadens the appeal, but simple English text is accepted in several countries. However, while different countries have different constraints on pricing (in Germany for example, it costs


three times as much to post a square card as a nonsquare one) this does not necessarily preclude a distributor seeing potential. And, don’t write off a range if it doesn’t sell in the UK, it may well sell elsewhere in the world! ● Meeting your commitments: Think seriously about whether you can meet the delivery expectations of overseas distributors. Be realistic. ● The global calendar: Be aware that overseas distributors may be working on a slightly different timetable. Involve them at an early stage of your range’s development. Also, be upfront about ranges you are considering dropping before they print their catalogue or they won’t be happy! ● Actual cards v licensing: Some overseas distributors/publishers will be interested in licensing a UK publisher’s designs. Be aware that if the designs have been sourced from another artist or from a picture library, this would effectively involve are sublicensing which may well not be part of the agreement with the artist/design agency. ● Consider an export agent: There are some fantastic export agents who are experienced in handling export sales, travelling to the countries representing a number of different publishers.They generally work on a monthly fee (around £100) and a percentage of sales (around 10%).



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Manufacturing Overseas


The nuts and bolts of

Overseas Production The popularity of hand-finishing on greeting cards means that sourcing overseas production, predominantly in China, has become a ‘way of the world’ in the greeting card market, but be aware of the complexities.

Supplier evaluation report

Choosing your supplier(s) ● Exhibitions (both in Europe and the Far East), the Internet, magazines and word of mouth are the most common routes to find suitable suppliers. ● Some UK printers have arrangements with Far Eastern factories, so this provides another option. ● Choose your partner(s) carefully. Don’t be swayed solely by the prospect of low costs. ● Not all greeting cards are cheaper if they are produced in the Far East. It tends to be only cards that incorporate handwork that work are cost effective due to the lower labour costs. ● Ideally visit the factory (or appoint a representative) to check out the production facilities, working conditions of the staff and to fully establish working procedures such as software compatibility. ● Is the supplier also manufacturing the same type of products in the same factory for your competitors? ● More countries now provide cost-competitive alternatives to manufacturing in China. Check out the possibilities in Poland, India, Taiwan and the Philippines.



● Is the supplier at full capacity? If so, this is likely to cause delays. Is there the correct equipment and processes in place to achieve the quality you need, at the price you are prepared to pay? ● Has the supplier got enough funds to be able to deliver your products within the timeline, if not this will also affect your deliveries from the FE? ● Does the factory work to within the guidelines of the State or the Central Government? ● What are its health and safety, wages, workforce rights working hours and condition? These must meet a minimum and comply with local laws and national laws. ● What is the management calibre and attitude towards you and your company? Do they have their own design/studio inhouse to help you with any issues that may arise before you ‘push the button’ on production?


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Manufacturing Overseas

Placing orders

Payment issues

Confidentiality clause - If you are dealing with a new supplier and you are unsure about releasing confidential information about a special process or processes, ask them to sign a ‘Confidentiality Agreement’. Sign offs - Products need to be ‘signed off’ at several stages during production to ensure both parties understand what is required. Samples – The sample stage is very important as this will provide the ‘blueprint’ for full production. Samples may be free, but delivery isn’t usually. And remember that invoices must state the word ‘Samples’ on them for customs clearance. MOQ - Minimum Order Quantity. Find out the requirements/prices for different quantities. Volume - Most factories will only manufacture to fill containers as this is the most effective way (mixed skus are often allowed). It is important to know the cubic measurement of each product in order to maximise the number of cartons per full container. Lead times – This may be 30, 45, 60 days without shipping. The latter normally adds an extra 21 days on your lead time. Busy periods – Try to avoid deliveries over Christmas. If boats land and the cargo is not removed, extra costs are incurred.

Getting your pricing right is vital. Do you know what you are paying for? FOB – Free On Board.The price only includes the product and transportation to the ship. CIF – Cost, Insurance and Freight. This only covers goods to the UK port and excludes duty, VAT and inland freight costs. DDU - Direct to warehouse. This includes all duty, VAT and inland freight. Consider setting up a deferment account - A deferment account allows goods to clear customs quickly with the bill being paid later. There is a charge of course for this. Be aware of duty differences - Different products incur different duty levies. The UKTI and your local Chamber of Commerce are able to help with these sorts of queries. LC (letter of credit) – arranged with your bank. Priority Payments – Western Union or through your bank. Payments on documents – Payment is released when documents have been handed over to the freight forwarder. Most suppliers require payment before they release any goods or you can negotiate terms and conditions. Payments and prices are normally in US dollars so it is important to have a dollar account. Dollar against sterling may fluctuate. Protect against the fixed dollar rate. Speak to your bank to get the best deal for you and your company.

Cultural differences

Knowing the customs of the Far East helps as the culture/etiquette differs. For example, the Chinese have a word ‘mianzi’ which means ‘face’ and is very important to Chinese people. This can cause problems as they often say “yes of course I can”, when really they can’t and to ‘save face’ often use words like “difficult” or “inconvenient” to mean “no” to a request. Although the Chinese speak English it must



not be assumed that they fully understand. Also, don’t forget the time difference! There is 7-8 hrs difference (depending on BST) between the UK and China. This means you start late in the night and finish early in the morning, if you want to speak to the Far East during their time zone. Also remember that factories will often be closed over Chinese New Year.


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The nuts and bolts of

Copyright Issues Briffa – The Intellectual Property Rights law firm, gives the low down on the basics of Copyright. Greeting card manufacturers and designers use artwork, written material and recognisable images as an integral part of their business. As such, it is important to ensure that such works are properly protected and legally used in your products.

What does © mean?

What is Copyright? Copyright gives those who create original work, the right to prevent others copying it.

So if you can obtain copyright protection just by writing something on paper why does the following, for example © Jo Smyth 1970, appear on books, drawings etc? The use of the copyright symbol does not create copyright protection, but it is important to put it on creative works, for three reasons: ● It shows who the author is, when the work created and that the author is asserting their copyright. ● It puts others on notice that they are not entitled to copy the work without the author’s permission. ● It is a statement that all legal formalities have been complied with to allow copyright to exist in the work.

How do you get it? Getting copyright protection is easy. All original works of an author, set down in material form, have immediate copyright protection.‘Original’ doesn’t mean that the work is new, fresh and innovative, but simply that it originated from the author, that is, it is not copied from somebody else. It is important that what is created is put into material form. Material form does not have to be writing on paper, but can include saving it onto a disk or hard drive and recording it on a tape or CD. It is often said, that to get copyright protection, you should post a copy of your work to yourself in a sealed envelope. This does not give you copyright protection, but rather it helps in proving it. There is no system for creative works to be registered in a central database. If you can show that your work was created before someone else’s, this can obviously be highly significant when you are trying to show that they could have copied you.


The best advice, is simply to always keep your rough drafts, sketches, scribbles and notes which lead to the final work that you completed, as all of these will be subject of copyright. Put the copyright symbol on these, as they have their own copyright and they help to show the date of creation of the final work.



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How long does it last?

Freelance designers may own the copyright of their work unless they ‘assign’ it to another person or company. However, this depends on the nature of the arrangements made between the freelancer and the commissioner and in some circumstances rights may be assigned even if there is no written document.

Copyright protection lasts for up to 70 years from the date of the death of the author, or in the case of sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programmes, for 50 years running from the end of the year in which the work was created.

What rights does the copyright owner have? The owner of the copyright has the right to prevent others from doing any of the following: ● Copying the work. ● Issuing copies of the work (otherwise

known as the distribution rights). ● Making an adaptation of the work.

The above list of rights is known as the ‘restricted acts’ as other people are restricted from doing any of the above unless they have the permission of the copyright owner. By doing a ‘restricted act’ a person is said to infringe copyright. A copyright owner can take an action to prevent others from making a ‘substantial copy’ of the work. What constitutes a substantial copy is a matter for the courts, but one general rule of thumb is that ‘if it is worth copying, it is worth protecting’. Can the author of copyright and the owner be different? It can be the case that the author of the copyright may not ultimately be the owner of the copyright. For example, employers will automatically own the copyright of all work that employees create during the course of their employment. While this occurs automatically due to the law, it is normally good practice for employers should include this in their contracts of employment.



What happens if I put my work on the Internet? The laws of copyright apply equally to works on the Internet as they do in the off-line environment. As a result, it is an infringement of copyright to place a book, graphics or song on the Internet without the owner’s consent. There is always a certain amount of risk involved in placing your work in an environment that facilitates copying. However, by marking your work with proper notices and by regular surveillance of your competitors, the risk of loss due to infringement should be minimal. What do I do if someone steals my work? If you think your work is being copied you should write to the infringer and request that they stop their activity. You should also seek specialist legal advice if you feel that you have suffered losses as a result and legal proceedings may also be an option. Will there be protection in other countries as well? Copyright is protected abroad under the international system called the Berne Convention. Each country, which subscribes to the Berne Convention (currently just under 150 countries of the world), agrees to treat works coming from other member countries of the Berne Convention system as if they were originating in their home country. Therefore, an English textbook being sold in Germany would be protected in Germany, as if the work had originated in Germany.


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The nuts and bolts of

Sales Agents Are sales opportunities slipping away? Just starting out or are unable to justify a full time sales rep, you join the many publishers who will be appointing independent sales agents.

Advantages & disadvantages?

How do you find a reputable agent?

What are the advantages of employing an agent? Agents are self-employed and therefore do not add to the company’s overheads. Agents work on a commission only basis. While the principal (ie, the publisher) may supply sales materials, he has no responsibility for the agent’s business expenses, eg, travel, telephone, accommodation, meals, postage etc.

Word of mouth: Ask fellow publishers, suppliers and retailers of your products for recommendations. Directories: Consult telephone directories for specialist agents working in the desired territories. Trade magazines: Advertise in the classified/appointments section of a leading trade magazine such as Progressive Greetings (020 7700 6740). Face-to-face: Arrange an interview with prospective agents. Ask for references, current principals, and territories covered.

What are the disadvantages of employing an agent? The principal has no direct control over the agent’s work habits and schedule. The principal can influence, but not control the agent’s sales presentation and account handling. Since the agent may be working for several companies, the principal’s products may not always receive top priority.

European Directive (1994) Publishers should have a proper legal agreement with their agents that fulfils EU legal requirements. Indemnity and compensation on termination of an agent are particularly relevant to small publishers. Please note: as many compensation cases are settled out of court, there is little case law in this area. For further advice, contact Steeles solicitors (the GCA’s legal partner on this) on 01603 598000.



Legal agreements Agents should be first hired for a three or six-month probationary period during which time either side may terminate the appointment. An agreement confirming the appointment should be signed by both parties. If the principal chooses to terminate the agreement at the end of the probationary period,


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the agent must be notified in writing before the period expires. If the principal allows the contract to run over, the agent is automatically judged to have an indefinite contract with the principal. When the probationary period is completed, a legally binding agreement should be raised and signed by both parties. The agreement will be regarded as an indefinite contract unless a fixed term is stipulated.

Criteria for contracting an agent What should I look for in an agent? An engaging personality, smart appearance and high level of motivation. Knowledge and experience in your industry. An up-to-date operational set-up (car, fax, computer, email, mobile phone). Operates in the territories required. Contacts customers on a regular basis. Has a good track record with other clients. What aspects should I avoid? Agents that represent competing products. Agents with overly heavy workloads. Agents that rely on the phone and don’t personally meet with current and potential customers when necessary.

Payment of commission Parties must decide on a rate of commission. This is normally between 15%-20% for the greeting card industry. The commission rate applies to all existing and future accounts. An annual sales target, broken down into months, should be agreed upon and reviewed on a yearly basis. Agree in advance on what will be ‘house accounts’, which are handled directly by the publisher and no agents’ commission is paid.


Agent Territories There are approximately 10-12 agents territories in UK – filling these slots is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle! The general agents areas are: Greater London, SE England, SW England, E Midlands, W Midlands, NW England, NE England, Scotland, Home Counties (North of London) and South Wales. Tips For A Happy Agent Marriage Keep your product fresh - agents need to believe in your company. Respect the opinion and skill of your agents. When taking on a new agent make sure you know which other companies they are carrying and what type of shop they visit. Ask fellow agents and/or publishers for their opinions. It’s also a good idea to ring a good customer in the area for feedback. Keep an eye on what else is ‘in their bag’ – make sure you are happy with your ‘position’ in that bag. Be honest and as open as you can – share discounts, declare all sales - don’t ever penny pinch where agents are concerned. Pay the agents on time. Send out a commission statement once a month. Treat them well – eg a Christmas meal, appropriate gifts, meal out at trade show etc. If they are good, they are worth it. Communicate - thank them for good sales, discuss any problems and how you can help. Hold an annual sales meeting. Listen to feedback on ranges sometimes with a pinch of salt! (They are not designers!) Keep monthly sales figures and compare what an agent achieves year on year. Keep up to date on which geographical areas are ‘hot’ and which areas are slow generally (this will be easy to get from other publishers and at trade shows). If you do decide to part with an agent, do it by the book. Check for the latest procedures with the GCA. Keep the communication open – pay up and move on! If it doesn’t work out try to part company on good terms. You may work together again at some point in future.



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