Printing A4 in the U.S.
July 12, 2010 2:20 PM   Subscribe

I've got a 16 page brochure designed on A4 paper in landscape mode. I need to get it printed with center staple binding. Apparently, this is impossible to do in the U.S.

I want to print a short run of this brochure, say 50 - 250 copies. Essentially it would be four sheets of paper, printed on both sides and folded in the middle and stapled to create a 16 page brochure. Unfortunately, since this was designed at A4 size, I can't find any printing companies that can handle it. The reason is because the sheets will be about 23.4 inches long.

Short of redesigning this thing, can you think of any solutions for me getting this printed in the U.S. cheaply? I know that I can get it printed on an offset, but that will require a long run of 500+ copies, which I'm trying to avoid (since the long run will be done overseas, hence the A4).

Any thoughts or suggestions appreciated. I can answer any questions as well.
posted by dead_ to Technology (14 answers total)
Staples or Kinkos? No idea about pricing or capabilities, but worth calling if you haven't yet.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2010

Staples and Kinkos are not going to be able to help you.

If I'm reading you right, your problem is that you're printing a brochure that, when folded, will be A4. And not that you are printing on A4 paper and folding in half, landscape-wise. Right?

Finding a small-scale printer who can work in those sizes is going to be difficult. Where in the US are you? And do you need a local printer, or can you email off your work to someone? In other words, do you have the pick of the entire USA, or do you need to go drop something off today and pick it up tomorrow?
posted by Sara C. at 2:32 PM on July 12, 2010

Have you looked at whether anywhere could print and staple into booklets pages larger than A4, and then cutting them down afterwards?
I worked at a printers for a while and anything with print that needed to meet the border of a page had to be printed A3 and cut down to A4, so depending on what it is you're getting done it may have to go through that process anyway, but I'm guessing anything that would automatically bind them wouldn't handle the A4 size, as the one we had could only do A4 booklets (well, A5... you know.)

Potentially you could look at stapling it yourself as it's only 250 max, but it would still be a heap of extra work to do.
posted by opsin at 2:34 PM on July 12, 2010

Oh, yea, that was me assuming you meant printed onto A4 paper, to fold, and the issue was about the difference in paper size between Europe and the US.
If you mean print A3 to fold to A4 then while I'm sure somewhere might be able to do it, certainly we couldn't automatically staple bind A3 sheets, we were entirely geared to making A5 form booklets or smaller, or doing it by hand.
posted by opsin at 2:36 PM on July 12, 2010

Trouble is, you'll need an A2 laser printer for a short run, which are certainly not common. The digital printers I know only go up to SRA3. An inkjet would work but the cost would be huge, and take forever.

Have you thought about printing it A4, and then binding them down the short side? Perhaps with a thermal binding which you could actually do yourself.
posted by derbs at 2:39 PM on July 12, 2010

I used to manage at a print shop, and when we had European sizes brought in we would scan it to make it into a letter sized image, then print the re-sized image. From there the booklets wouldn't be an issue. It's just an extra step, and it always worked pretty well.

Of course, this depends if your document is of a technical nature and then I'm not sure what to do.
posted by nothingsconstant at 2:40 PM on July 12, 2010

If you don't mind a little extra margin at the sides of the finished pages maybe you can scale your A4 document by 94% and have it printed on ANSI B (11x17) paper. 11x17 is common as dirt and everyone can print it.

You could put the extra whitespace in the center around the staples and I bet it would not look too weird.
posted by fritley at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2010

derbs has it: this is two A4 sheets next to one another that will be folded, so an A2 laser is the way to go (I think). And yes, this is apparently very uncommon.

nothingsconstant: I think your strategy may be best, scan the images in and make them letter sized.
posted by dead_ at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2010

No, two A4 sheets fit on an A3 sheet, not A2. A2 is huge.
posted by fritley at 2:47 PM on July 12, 2010

Oh sorry, I think I see now - the A4 pages themselves are landscape. Just ignore me.
posted by fritley at 2:50 PM on July 12, 2010

To be honest dead, I think you're out of luck trying to get it digitally printed. Not even this beast can do A2, and it costs $640,000. A cursory search for A2 laser printers brings up nothing.
posted by derbs at 3:00 PM on July 12, 2010

Indeed, two A4s are one A3. (Just as two letters are one ledger/tabloid.)

Are you talking about traditional offset printing, or just laser printing? Any proper print shop should well be able to print A3.

If it's laser, those printers aren't all that uncommon; any landscape (or wide carriage, in old parlance) printer should be able to handle A3. For BW printing, a Laserjet 5000 or 8000 would do it, as would the 5500 and 8500 for color. And whatever their successors are.

Oh wait, I see what you are saying. You want the binding/fold to be on the short edge. Yeah, that's going to be harder. For a test run, I would suggest using separate A4s and use a separate binding.
posted by gjc at 3:06 PM on July 12, 2010

Saddle stitch is cheap and easy, but kind of sucks, especially with heavy or large pages. It falls apart too easily. Does it have to be saddle stitched? Can you just print it on A4 and then have it wire-o bound (sometimes called double wire?) It would be a little more expensive, $0.25 a book at that site, so, an additional $75?
posted by ctmf at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2010

It's not impossible to do in the US, but it's likely to be so costly that it may as well be impossible.

Any good digital quick print shop should be able to do it for you, even if your booklet, when closed, is the size of one landscape A4 sheet, and when opened, is two landscape A4 sheets wide (210mm tall by 594mm wide overall). Most higher end color laser copiers and digital presses will handle "long paper" or "banner paper"; ours will handle up to 12" x 45", and I have in fact made double-ledger size booklets (11"x34" open; 11"x17" closed, bound on the short edge) that we then hand-finished by saddle-stapling.

I like to say that we can do just about anything you want (and we have done some pretty outrageous jobs), you just may not like the price tag attached. So can it be done? Sure, even Kinkos can do it, if you're lucky enough to find one with a competent staff. Will it be worth the cost? Probably not.

To get these done economically, your best bet is going to be either:

A) Choosing an alternate binding method (perfect bind, thermal, wire, spiral, etc.) instead of saddle stitching, which will let you use a native A4-landscape page size, instead of a double-A4-landscape-wide page size, which is where 99% of your inflated cost is coming from. Keep in mind it's not only the equipment required for a page this size, but the paper. If this is not a size the print shop stocks (can't imagine it would be), they'll have to either cut it down from a larger size, or order it, often with minimum costs and quantities that will then be passed on to you. By allowing your job to be run on single A4 sheets, you're using a common cut-sheet size, which should reduce the cost substantially. Any good quick-print shop should be able to work in ISO sizes, at least A3 and A4, natively.


B) Scaling the job to fit a page size that your local print shop's equipment can natively print, duplex, and finish (saddle-staple) automatically. Depending on the content, this could get messy, because ISO paper sizes don't scale evenly to our stupid US paper sizes.
posted by xedrik at 5:29 PM on July 12, 2010

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