How to help kill off printing

Just now, I got an email from a printing equipment supplier. He asked if he could email me the invoice. For years he has mailed me an invoice or statement. Now, he wants to email.

Now, what is wrong what the supplier said?

We as a printing community, are killing our self off, with emailing invoice etc to our customers.

Last week I got a printed mailer from a Tag Mfg. It looked interesting so I request more information. They emailed the information with drawings to me. I do not have time to print out the 10 pages and read them when I not busy.

I do not think I will remember to think about ordering from them.

I get a lot of emails all day long, I never look back at them. I read them fast and close the file.

We want people to purchase printing from our printing community, and turn around and support the digital world that killing us.

If you love emailing your customers for business and emailing them information and invoices, how can youASK for their printing business?

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Sorry, can you please print this out and mail it to me?


Give your address.

The Arm
281 North 7th Street #3
Brooklyn, NY 11211-2186

Please include your address and I will send something in return.

You are ranting about technology killing print, on the INTERNET. I’ve asked you privately and will now do so publicly:

Please use this resource,, to provide knowledge and information to those who seek it and ask questions to those that have it. Old men damning new technology is a tired old cliche and is not beneficial to preserving this craft.

I must agree that the internet is a boon for facilitating communication among printers. But I don’t think it is necessarily a bed of roses for traditional private press. Perhaps the modern take on letterpress has benefited, but hand-set private press editions have dwindled from a couple of hundred copies to a couple of dozen and collectors are few and far between (the Australian experience anyway). Habits and values have changed and it’s pointless bemoaning the new trend. But nevertheless it shouldn’t be heresy to question the new orthodoxy. Many of us here no doubt have a little steak of the luddite about us. We use the Internet where it benefits us and get on with the printing that we love. Vis the many very dusty neglected press websites crying out for attention. I rather dislike the “old man” label. The current cliche might well be something about young men blithely accepting everything technology throws at us.

I am not talking bad about the internet. I was talking about we as printers wanting to promote printing shouldn’t add to email customers invoices and pages of information. We want printing, we have equipment, we are skilled printers, we need to show off our work all the time to old and customers. So my point is we as printers need to do what we can to promote printing to the world. Just trying remind we letterpress community, show off our work by putting printing in our customers hand.

in the interest of efficiency, i have chosen to eliminate this govm’t bureaucracy called the USPS, at any chance i get.

I agree with Aaron’s point on using our own letterpress work for things we as printers should be using and promoting—in house forms, stationery, billing, etc. Granted much of this can be done via the internet, computer, and copy machines, but for us old timers who bemoan what’s happening to traditional ways of doing things, I’m not quite ready to pack my bags (and my knowledge and experience) and head off to the Printer’s Home in Colorado Springs. For the fun of it, I have kept all the email for the past 2 years that survived the delete and spam filter test and there are 27,416 sitting in my computer as of this evening. That’s a gross overload by any measure and in retrospect, the vast majority of these messages are of dubious value or interest. When something has to be mailed, it cuts to the quick really fast as to the value of the communication. If we had to pay 49 cents for every casual email then this would all come to a halt fairly fast. And think of the spare time we’d all have and the young-uns would be totally lost without their electronic crutch.

We almost lost our post office here a couple of years ago. The consequences would have been a disaster. I looked into using more mail services and found that most small packages could be sent at half the cost of UPS. Then small Flat Rate Priority packages are likewise one half to one third the cost of UPS and have a 2 day guaranteed delivery. From spending maybe $200 a year at the post office, we now spend about $15,000 a year, helping to guarantee we have a post office with its workforce and prominent place in town. I work closely with our local postmaster and have very few problems. A UPS package lost back in January in a Texas train wreck is still listed by UPS as “delayed in transit” and that’s unacceptable service. We saw on the news what happened to those 2 UPS trailers and there is still a pending claim—and one SP-20 roller that we had to have remade in the meantime.

And then I found this, on the internet, of course, but printing related and with plenty of “old fart” appeal:

Write anything long hand lately?

I do agree in the sense of this topic, but we cannot and shall not, not even as printers, fight against the digital development. It will be a Don Quixote fight against the windmills – you can’t stop them and you will never win. I would love to print letterheads, bills etc. but there is no future in it. In my little business I spend a lot of money in postage costs compared with other similarly companies – mailing proofs, products etc., but the costs are going up all the time and I do have to keep my costs down at a minimum, so invoicing etc. are all done by e-mail. Only if it’s the right costumer and it will serve a higher target I’ll write the invoice by hand on paper.
In the past there were 2 to 3 commercial print shops in our part of our little village – supporting the local shops, craft workers and the local court with printed paper goods. Today I have the only press running in the entire municipality with a population of more than 30.000. Not even a single little offset or digital shop. I do not have any local costumers – and I’m not looking for them. The main part of my customers are situated in the largest cities as Aarhus or Copenhagen.
As I see the future we will kill our businesses starting mailing everything out by the Royal Snail-Mail and on that way adding our self un-competitive expenses. We have, whatever we like it or not, to follow the stream and for our businesses find a niche where we profitable can do our craft. Do not look back and look at the lost marked – it will not help anything. Look forward.
Gott grüß die Kunst

Please understand, I am not against the digital world. I just find it funny, that we printers have put a lot of money and time into our shops.

So, we as printers should promote our work and skill. Handing or including a nice printed 4x5 invoice or thank you note puts your printing into the hands of the public.

This is a website to help printers grow their business. So, why after printing the great $200 business card order and shipping to the customer, that a nice letterpress note card or invoice from you would add to their letterpress purchase.

It doesn’t hurt to let the old men rant… If WE didn’t answer the many questions here. This website would be useless.

It does raise a good marketing question though: How do you get examples of your work into the hands of customers. True, they may find you on the Internet, but they may well find the other six bazillion letterpress/offset/flexo/digital printers out there who will work for free and deliver yesterday.

Differentiating our craft: via either heavy impression (oh I can hear the groans : <)) or the appeal to craftsmanship and attention to detail, is something we have to do to keep our heads above the water of the Internet. For those who have been really good at building their business, how you do it?

I guess that can be a new thread, but comments on this one may be value as well.

Michael Seitz
Quality Letterpress Printing
Missoula MT

I prefer sending invoice digital and receiving payment by etransfer. However with every job, I always send a hard copy inkjet invoice in an envelope that I have printed with lead type or foil stamped here.
If I was not equipped to receive digital files for steel rule die and mag plates I would be in a hobby not a business.
New tech does not mean discard the old.
“Do all that is necessary and nothing that isn’t”

The goal isn’t to stop the windmills. The goal is to keep your Windmill running. ;-)

Why choose to see new technology as an all-or-nothing outcome for letterpress? I say: develop the new cell phone, make the faster computer and create the newer photo sharing service. Why? New technologies raise the older ones to an art form.

Aaron is right. We should be sending printed items for being in the printing business. Printing is the personal connection. Personal connections bring business. More business means more letterpress. It’s a circle, kind of like life.