Frequency

For a magazine with paying subscribers, reducing the frequency might be a bad idea. If your subscribers have signed up for 12 issues per year they probably want their money’s worth.

If subscriptions are not on the table, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to frequency. By reducing the number of catalogues or magazines you send out, you can save on distribution without actually changing the printed product. But what you risk losing is actuality. A printed product that is issued with long intervals risks becoming outdated. This is especially true for catalogues and magazines that want to be perceived as current.

Nobody expects direct mail, which can be an advantage when it comes to saving on distribution cost. Being smart about where and when to send your mailings, means you can cut back at times when sales are strong from other channels. Or you can focus on complementing your multi-channel campaigns with direct mail and reduce the day to day send outs.

Format

When it comes to format, it is worth looking into what the best format is for efficient distribution of your printed product. Having an odd format might be great for getting attention and standing out from the competition, but is it a good format for distribution? You need to weigh the pros and cons of being different vs. being conformal and liked by the forwarding agents tariff table. Is it worth it?

If you decide that it's not, you can consider reducing the number of pages in your publication instead. Shaving a few pages off might not look like much for one copy but can make a difference for the distribution of the whole edition. Your readers will probably not even notice, unless you take too many pages out, then they might feel robbed of content. Just like if you would have cut back on the frequency.

Weight

To save money on distribution, the weight of your printed matter is of course key. And when it comes to the weight of your printed product, it is natural to talk about grammage. Grammage refers to how much the paper weighs per square metre. (In countries using US paper sizes, the term basis weight is preferred, which refers to the weight of a ream containing 500 sheets of paper, in pounds)

Even though the grammage of the paper only indicates how much the paper weighs it is often also used to describe the thickness of paper. A paper with high grammage is normally thicker than a low grammage paper. So to lower the weight of your product by reducing the grammage can be effective, but it might also have a few side effects to be aware of. Lower grammages can suffer from low opacity that makes the print show through to the other side. Another thing that can happen is your publication becoming floppy because the lower grammages have less stiffness in the sheet. One way to counteract these two issues is to look into high bulk papers.

You can still get the same print surface and the paper sheet and your end product will still be as thick as before. 

A high bulk paper is made from fresh fibres (first use) which are longer and rougher than recycled paper fibres. This means they can be turned into a “fluffy” paper, the paper is thick, but without containing a lot of extra fibres that would make it weigh more. The fresh fibres also give the high bulk paper better stiffness, even in low grammages.