Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…second in a series of tips on how to save money on printing.

Tip 2: Ask the paper mill for a discount

To calculate paper costs for a print job, a print estimator either looks up the book price or calls the their paper merchant to get deviated, or discounted, pricing. Book prices are the standard, published prices a paper merchant has set for the papers they carry.

Talk with the paper mill rep

There ’s another way to get deviated paper pricing: If you have a specific paper stock in mind for a large project, take the time to get in touch with that paper company’s mill rep. For example, if you specified Environment, you would contact a Neenah Paper mill rep.

If your print project involves a large paper purchase, the mill rep may offer you a promotional price deviation. Why is this? Like every other business, paper mills really want your business. I don’t advise asking mill reps for paper deals on every little print job, but if you’re printing 10,000 48-page booklets, the mill may be quite willing to sweeten the deal to win your order.

Refer to the mill’s web site, or call a paper merchant (such as Unisource or West Coast Paper) for the regional mill rep’s contact information.


At the time that you request print estimates, be sure to alert the bidding printers that the mill has offered a price deviation, and ask them to instruct their paper merchant to contact the mill for the special pricing.

If a printer skips this step, you will not get the paper discount the mill rep offered you. Also, if one bidding printer’s prices reflect the discount but another’s do not, you won’t be comparing apples to apples and may not get the lowest possible price.

Some printers buy a big volume of paper from one merchant, so they also get a volume discount from that merchant. A paper mill’s promotional price deviation may or may not be a better deal than your printer’s volume discount, but it’s definitely worth asking!