Years ago I was the first vice president of an apartment association and needed a program for the monthly meeting when the president was away. I decided to use the audience rather than the usual guest speaker.

Specifically, I brought a list of all the products and services that apartment owners buy and went down the list one expense at a time asking the audience if any of them found a way to get a good price from a vendor or subcontractor of adequate quality. The meeting was electric and extremely valuable. Everyone left with the names of the best vendors and subcontractors in the area and the whole group decided to ask for a group discount from the lowest priced heating oil dealer, which we successfully did.

So I am doing that again here. I will start by listing the products and services that self-publishers buy and the best prices I have found and my source. But I make no claim that these are the best. Indeed, I expect that over time my readers will provide better sources and prices for each and every one.

Product or service Best price Source
24-pound paper Xerox $6.89 for 800 sheets or .86¢ per sheet Costco No longer has cheaper Georgia Pacific paper
8061X toner cartridge Office Depot for HP 4100 DTN printer $111.99 Office Depot
Canon 8C Cyan cartridge for PIXMA iP6600D inkjet printer (for doing color covers) $15.99 Office Depot
Office Depot shipping labels 6 per sheet same as Avery 5164—we no longer use these after switching to Endicia for postage $19.99 for 100 sheets or 20¢ per sheet Office Depot
Internet shopping cart services monthly fee $11.95 Yahoo store
Internet shopping cart per order charge 20¢ per order Yahoo Store
Internet shopping cart percentage rake off   Yahoo Store
Priority mail shipping boxes and envelopes free
Packing tape Used to be free from the Postal Service. No more. Costco
First class mail shipping envelopes 10" x 13" 28-pound heavy duty white wove paper 21¢ each in box of 100 Office Depot
Web site hosting services
Postage meter $784.08 a year for an SE 57 scale limited to 10 pounds and a connected SM 22 meter. I definitely think this is a rip-off price. We finally got fed up with them when they sent us a letter saying we would have to pay them about $260 extra in order to get them to update the scale to show the new postal rates that go into effect in May, 2007. When we told them we were switching to Endicia, they said we could get no refund on the $748.08 even though we are no longer using it halfway through the most recent one-year term. Neopost—I do not recommend them
Postage meter $16 a month. We also bought their scale (which connects to our computer) for about $85. And we bought one of their better label printers (about $425) which also connects to our computer. You can also print their labels and stamps out of your own laser printer. The way Endicia works is you put the package on the Endicia scale and you give the Endicia software in your computer the name and address of the customer. A single label containing your name and return address, the name and address of the customer, date, type of postage (Priority or first class in our case), a bar code regarding the customer address, another bar code for tracking, a tracking number, and the postage comes out of the printer. Your bank account or credit card gets debited for the amount of the postage at cost. My wife asked how much for the May, 2007 postal rate change that Neopost wanted $260 for. Would you believe zero?
Postage meter ribbons—We no longer need tese after switching to Endicia $57.32 for two. They used to let you use it unil the ribbon was too faded. Now, the ribbon goes to the end and refuses to operate thereby forcing you to buy a new one. I definitely think this is a rip-off price as well. I am not aware of any ability to buy from anyone other than Neopost for their machine. This is drug dealer marketing: get you hooked then force you to buy only from them. Neopost—I do not recommend them
Postage meter tapes for packages too large to go through the machine When I was using Neopost, I used white laser address labels that come 14 to a sheet. They cost $19.99 per box of 100 sheets or 1.43¢ per label. Neopost charges too much for them. Office Depot
Shipping Labels 5¢ each Sounds a little high to me. Endicia said you could buy them from other suppliers. Endicia
Merchant card processing We cannot match our batches to their deposits. Never the same. My wife is a Harvard MBA and retired banker and federal bank examiner and she cannot reconcile the deposits Paymentech puts into our bank account with the sales batches that the deposits represent. For example, in March, 2007, the amount of our sales that went into Paymentech’s pocket rather than ours for unknown reasons was a little over $100. Our inability to explain that missing amount is in spite of calling Paymentech and trying to get the answers from them. Paymentech
Merchant card delay between sale and deposit Was taking 8 or 9 days until we complained. Then they dropped it to two. Apparently, they will deliberately take advantage of you in this way if you do not watch them carefully and complain. Paymentech
book manufacturing A 206-page, 8 1/2 x 11 book we had manufactured on 2/27/07 cost $3,964.19 for 1,533 copies or $2.59 per copy Thomson-Shore, Inc.
book freight shipping the above book cost $416.89 from Dexter, MI to Alamo, CA or $416.89 ÷ 1,533 = $.27 per book Thomson-Shore, Inc.

John T. Reed