Book Printing: Don’t Blindly Trust Delivery Paperwork

Part of being a good print buyer is being a proficient sleuth when it’s necessary. When something seems confusing or goes wrong, or when you just can’t get the answer you need, it pays to do your own research. Not all responses to your questions, however confident in their tone, will be accurate—no matter how well intentioned.

The Setting of the Delivery Snafu

A client of mine just had 5,000 6” x 9” perfect-bound books printed. They are government textbooks, and all but 100 copies were slated for delivery to the fulfillment house. Boxed in cartons of 20 print books each, the total run comprised 250 boxes. The fulfillment house needed to receive 245 boxes, and my client’s office needed to receive 5 boxes (the aforementioned 100 books).

To ensure accurate delivery, my client went out to the fulfillment house and counted the copies noted on the pallet flags (paper notations on the wrapped skids of cartoned print books). The total added up to 250 boxes of 20 copies each.

Unfortunately, this didn’t make sense, since the total would have left no boxes for my client’s office. So I called the book printer.

The printing sales rep at the book printer did some research and told me the truck had left the plant with both deliveries (my client’s office copies and the fulfillment house’s copies). According to the delivery manifest, the five-box delivery at the client’s office had occurred, and then the 245-box delivery at the fulfillment house had occurred shortly thereafter. If the pallet description of the boxed books said there were 250 boxes, this meant there were 100 overs (100 more copies than requested by my client)—and the printer said my client could have them free of charge.

Not Quite Enough Information

This offer sounded good, but I didn’t like the lack of certainty. I trusted the sales rep completely, but I wasn’t absolutely sure had had been given accurate information by his delivery people. Moreover, holding more copies of the books than needed at the fulfillment house might incur an extra charge. Either the fulfillment house would need to store them (for a fee) or deliver them to my client (for a fee). My client had ordered the total she needed for the end-users. More copies could be a nuisance.