Barry Gregory talks about Ka-Blam and print on demand

barry-gregoryFirst Comics News: What is print on demand?
Barry Gregory: Print on Demand –our definition at least– is short-run, quick turnaround digital printing.  Digital printing takes advantage of high-end laser printing technology to yield a top quality print even on very, very low print runs.
1st: What is the minimum order?

Barry: That’s the  beauty of digital printing.  The minimum order is “1” copy.  Because there’s minimal press setup –really all we have to do is color calibrate– we can easily print one unit at a time.  Once we’ve got a printable document it’s just a matter of attaching a print profile, setting the quantity, and clicking print.  The process is almost completely automated and in-line.  So we send a job to print and the press does the rest.  A finished, folded, stapled, precision trimmed comic comes out on the finishing tray.

1st: How much does it cost to print a comic at KA-BLAM?

Barry: It depends on the page count and whether the job  is color vs. black/white.  We do have some volume discounts that kick in at 500 and 1000 units.  We also offer a sizable discount in exchange for letting us run a Ka-Blam ad on the back cover or interior back cover.  We’ve got price calculators at the site –– where users can see exactly what their unit costs will be.

1st: So, if a creator is able to sell one comic to their Mother they still turn a profit?

Barry: I’m not sure why one would insist on making his mother pay for the comic instead of just giving it to her, but yes, if the creator puts a price tag of $3.99 on their full color comic and it costs them around $2.25 a unit to print, then on a direct to consumer sale they’d pocket about $1.74 a copy.
1st: What if the creator wants a non-traditional size comic?
Barry: We do a lot of that.  We’re equipped to print any comic up to 8 inches wide and 10.5 inches high and just about any size in between.  The only tricky part with a custom-sized comic is the stapling.  The staples are fixed at about five inches apart, so anything smaller than say six inches high we’d have to glue bind instead of stapling.
1st: What are the shipping costs?
Barry: It will depend on the weight of the order.  We use USPS flat rates in all applicable instances.  We charge exact shipping costs plus a 3% packaging/handling charge and a small insurance charge.
1st: What are the format and size requirements?
Barry: Print-ready PDFs are the preferred format, but if a user just wants to send us image files we can build the PDF for them.  We’ve got all the tech specs at the site.  Sizing depends on the desired final trim size.  We’ve got pre-built templates here — — and if a customer has a custom-size in mind we can build a template for them.
1st: How do creators sent the files to you?
Barry: They can upload them directly to us from the order form or we can take a dropbox link.
1st: How much lead time is required for the time the files are delivered until the time comics printed?

Barry: If the files are in total compliance with our tech specs then it can go pretty fast.  We recommend that users always place a quantity “1” order on any new, never-published comic.  If there’s no issue with the files as submitted, then we’ll turn it around in about a week.  After that, they can reorder at their convenience and turnarounds on reorders are on average around a week also.  Sometimes much faster though.   Specification compliance is the key.  Nothing bogs down the process like file problems.  If there are not enough pages or too many pages or the pages are out of spec, the wrong size, etc, then we have to put the order on hold and explain to the user what the problem is and how to correct it and then wait for new uploads.

1st: In addition to comics what are the printing services do you provide?

Barry: We learned a while ago to focus on what we do best.  We print comics and trade paperbacks and we offer order fulfillment.  That’s what we do.

1st: If someone is publishing with a Kickstarter can you bundle all the different elements together and ship direct to the customer?

Barry: We can.  This is something we’re doing more and more of lately.  We don’t charge any extra for this service.

1st: Do you offer digital downloads as well as printed comics?

Barry: We have a digital comics shop at our sister site —  At IndyPlanet customers can browse thousands of independent comics and purchase either print-on-demand copies or get digital downloads of most of the titles there.  Comics purchased at IndyPlanet usually ship within 48-72 hours of purchase.
1st: What if you’re an artist and want to make a sketchbook to sell and show off your work to publishers at conventions. Are there trademark issues with publishing other companies characters?
Barry: At Ka-Blam we take a firm stance on copyright and trademark issues.  We will print absolutely no copyrighted or trademarked material without the permission of rights holders.  Period.

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