When you go to buy printing, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Get some quotes to compare. If you haven't bought printing before, you may be astonished at how much prices can vary from printer to printer. It turns out that there's a huge variety of equipment to print with, and most printers will quote on nearly any job even if they don't have the best equipment for it. Which means it can be pretty costly sometimes, if they're printing a small job on a press designed for large runs. (Or they just buy the printing from another printer, mark it up and pass sit along to you.) So get quotes from different places.
- Ask questions. Don't hesitate to ask why it costs so much, or why it takes so long. Maybe there are simple changes you can make to your design that would save you a bundle. (If you want to print a poster, for instance, find out what size sheet the printer is using in the press, and design your poster to fit neatly into that size, or fractions of that size.)
- Widen your search. Often the closest printer is not the cheapest. If you're doing a book, or a poster, you may be better off buying printing from a distance and paying the shipping charges. Some companies buy their color hardback books from printers in China; that has its own set of issues, but it's certainly commonplace to get book quotes from all over the US and Canada. Generally, printing in the Midwest is going to be cheaper than on the coasts.
- Get references and samples. If it's more than just a simple flier, try to get references you can talk to and some samples of other work they've done. Cheap is not the only thing you're looking for; quality counts, too.
There's a lot more to savvy print buying than this. It can be worth your while to have a print buyer do your shopping for you; ask around to see if other game companies you know use one.