Printing and trimming odd-sized images? Turning images into print on demand postcards?
February 14, 2012 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Two image printing questions: 1) Will Costco trim images (and if not, is there a similarly priced & equally high quality competitor who will), and 2) What are my options for turning images into print-on-demand postcards?

Clarification on the trimming question:

Assume I have an 8x7 image file. The closes image size Costco prints is 8x10. I calculate the amount of white border to add to the image file to make it 8x10, and then send it to Costco to be printed.

Will they trim the excess 3 inches off for me if I ask? Who will if they won't?
posted by jsturgill to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
DIY, with a rotary trimmer?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:31 PM on February 14, 2012

[on preview: the following was assuming that the photo-trimming question was immediately relevant to the other one. If not, then yes, rotary trimmer.]

Costco isn't going to do this for you, and neither is any big photo-finishing service (like through your grocery store or pharmacy chain). You could probably talk a small photo/print lab into doing this for you, but (a.) the kind of paper they're using is unlikely to be good for postcards (because of either thickness or it having watermarks on the back), and (b.) it's probably going to cost more than you're looking to pay.

If I were in your position, I'd look into online p.o.d. postcard services (this was my first hit from google; no idea about the quality) and just crop your image to a standard postcard size.

If you don't want to go the online route for some reason, a call to your local printer (the kind that handle printing for businesses) may get you some decent advice about options.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 4:35 PM on February 14, 2012

Also you probably shouldn't have to add the white border yourself - normal with those type of photo places you just send/upload your image, and make sure the "do not crop" option is set.
posted by trialex at 5:20 PM on February 14, 2012

What is your goal? A product you can sell or are you just looking for a way to get cheap art prints done?

I'm not even sure it's possible to do print on demand postcards, at least as I understand the term print on demand (where you don't have to carry inventory, and could have as few as one postcard at a time printed to order). It just doesn't seem economically feasible for a printer to do that for you, especially for something as cheap as a postcard. Also, I think you'd have a hard time finding someone to print a custom size like 8" x 7" as an "on demand" product, too.

My suggestion, if you are looking to print a product you can sell, would be to set your postcards up at a standard size and order small quantities from an online printer. You can decide if you want to go digital or offset (offset's higher quality, but you'd likely have to order 1000 at a clip). I did a quick search for pricing of 6x9 digital postcards at a printer I use, and they would do 100 one-sided color cards for about $35 shipped to you, or 35 cents each. Bear in mind, that's 100 of the same image, not 100 different. They can do quantities as few as 25, but 100 seems to be the magic spot where the unit cost goes down significantly.

If you go the Costco route, I'd suggest buying a paper trimmer (or use a metal ruler and an Xacto knife if you don't want to spend money). I'd set up your file so you have 3" of white space on one side so it's 8" x (7" + 3" of white space), rather than centering it with a white border on all four sides, so you only have to make one cut.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:25 PM on February 14, 2012

Trimming and postcards are separate questions.

I'm hoping to find some way of sourcing odd-sized image prints and postcards, both printed on demand (no inventory and no minimum print runs).
posted by jsturgill at 8:55 PM on February 14, 2012

I use adoramapix for prints. Great quality with good prices, but they won't trim.

For postcards, are reasonable price for decent quality. You can upload your own design, so it can be as simple as a picture or have more design elements.
posted by msbrauer at 5:04 AM on February 15, 2012

Cafepress puts your photos on pretty much anything. They may not be the cheapest, and they don't do it overnight, but they do it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:55 AM on February 15, 2012

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