Kinda Pissed at Staples. Printed Maps.


GM Discussion

**** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Cleveland

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For the past several years, Staples was my go-to place to print out maps for my games. Even after the image of the map was blown up to scale, if you chose to print it as an engineering drawing, it would only cost $3 for a 2 foot by 3 foot map.

For color, it was only $6. And, the quality was always good, and you could use them again and again. For particularly good maps, I would add another $3 to get it laminated for long-term use.

The maps were always nice eye-candy, and got a lot of attention from my gamers - of both organized and home games. I have accumulated quite a stack, and have actually donated some of them to other gamers - when the stack got too big.

But, just recently, now Staples refuses to print these large maps for me any more. They say that if the saturation is more than 30%, it ruins their printers. I tried with a couple different Staples locations, and got the same answer every time. So, it looks like something recently changed internally with Staples.

The only other option is to have Staples print them as full-color posters, but that inflates the price from $6 to something like $60. Ugh.

I even priced out large plot printers to be able to do it at home. But, even a used one would be $600 - and that doesn't include the ink or paper.

Guess I have to dust off my old Chessex battlemaps and Vis-a-vis markers.


ugh that stinks

try a kinkos or other local shop ?

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka crashcanuck

Is there any way for you to edit the image to reduce the saturation yourself?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've been using BannersOnTheCheap.com for the last three years.

Pros:

- It's reasonably inexpensive
- you get a vinyl map (wet erase works fine, dry erase is permanent!)

Cons:

- It requires advance planning, as it typically takes a couple weeks to print and ship
- You wind up having to store a bunch of vinyl maps

Tips:

1) Clause 4 paragraph 1 in their Terms of Service grants them a limited use license to re-use images that you upload as part of their advertising campaigns. Since you do not have the right to sub-license Paizo's products, it's important to email them immediately after you place your order with the order number, explain that you're allowed to print this image but cannot sub-license it, and ask them to mark the image(s) in your order as unsuitable for advertising campaigns. They have never given me any trouble over this, though I have had to explain their own terms of service to a couple of less experienced reps a couple times! So now I make a point of including a link to their own terms of service in these explanatory notes.

2) They print at 100 DPI, so if you blow up the map to 100 pixels = 1 inch = 1 five-foot square, it should print out fine. There may be varying levels of blurriness introduced by the enlargement process, depending on the original resolution of the file. Paizo generally produces pretty low-res maps for APs and similar products; flip-mats are produced at a higher resolution and generally look much better in print.

3) In the event that you need to upload a VERY large file you may need to contact custom support and arrange to upload your files via FTP. This isn't too very hard, but it's an additional barrier to contend with.

4) If you are printing out a LOT of maps all at once, like all the maps from one book of an AP, it's generally cheaper to stitch several of them into a single enormous banner (they go up to 3x25 feet!) and then cut them apart once they arrive. However, the file is almost certainly going to be so large that it'll have to be uploaded via FTP. Also, the edges of maps that are cut apart this way tend to curl up more than they might otherwise. Trade-offs!

5) After your first order, they'll start sending you promotional emails offering discounts on their already pretty-cheap prices. These are generally worth it, but if you can hold off till you get an offer that includes free shipping, that's the best time, because shipping is often the biggest chunk of the expense.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

I don't know enough about large-format printers to know if it really "ruins" the printers, but I'm floored that this was ever an option!

I'm sitting in my office right now with a whole bunch of ANSI-D engineering drawings. Even the densest and most intricate probably has ink on less than 10% of the page. Printing a Paizo map - where there is ink on literally every bit of the page - would be WAY more expensive in terms of ink usage. I suspect that even without the damage potential the days of this option would be numbered once the value engineers realized how people were using it.

Sovereign Court ** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka crashcanuck

Tinalles wrote:

I've been using BannersOnTheCheap.com for the last three years.

Pros:

- It's reasonably inexpensive
- you get a vinyl map (wet erase works fine, dry erase is permanent!)

Cons:

- It requires advance planning, as it typically takes a couple weeks to print and ship
- You wind up having to store a bunch of vinyl maps

And I'm just realizing that I work at a place that can do this...now I need to find out what kind of employee rate I can get.

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

The same policy change hit out here at about the same time so it is probably corperate.

Printers do have a recommended duty cycle. Paizo maps have a saturation of nearly 100% in that every pixel has some amount of ink on it.

That quite likely exceeds the recommended use and may reduce life span, and possibly voids warranties.

**

Same thing has happened here in Rhode Island. My backup plan has been tiling the maps and printing them on 11 x 17 in. paper. I think that's about a dollar per page for colored prints, and it looks pretty good.

**** Venture-Captain, Ohio—Cleveland

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Hey, heads-up. I have an update. It appears that Staples reversed their 30% saturation policy. I was able to send the maps for "Citadel of Flame" to them a couple hours ago, and the order is already done. I'm going to pick it up tonight. The size of each map is going to be 24 X 36, and each one costs only about $6. So, I just wanted to let everyone know of the good news.

Dark Archive ***** Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

That's good to hear, Ryan.

May have to try them some time. With lamination, a price of <$9 is pretty good!

I mean, not as good as buying a flip-mat, but it does put the price of flip-mats into a better light (they're actually a decent deal!)

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Thanks for the update Ryan, I'll have to keep it for a backup plan in case my laminator goes down or I have short notice needs.

*

How do you get that to work, Ryan?

I mean, how do you send the maps along to Staples?

*is trying to figure out a Plan B for an upcoming scenario because the originally lined-up maps have been eaten by the postal service, apparently*

**** Venture-Lieutenant, Ohio—Cleveland aka GinoA

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Click the Design Now button on this page: https://www.staples.com/sbd/content/copyandprint/engineering-prints.html

Dark Archive ****

Get Gimp (photo editing program) and use the Filter -> Artistic -> Photocopy filter.

It's not nearly as pretty, but it is quite functional and compltetely reasonable for the engineering print, even if they do reinstate their saturation rules.

Sovereign Court * Venture-Agent, Alaska—Anchorage aka 1bent1

Ryan Kappler wrote:
Hey, heads-up. I have an update. It appears that Staples reversed their 30% saturation policy. I was able to send the maps for "Citadel of Flame" to them a couple hours ago, and the order is already done. I'm going to pick it up tonight. The size of each map is going to be 24 X 36, and each one costs only about $6. So, I just wanted to let everyone know of the good news.

So I am a little lost on the process, could you post as tutorial on this please?

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