This has little to do with poetry slam and much to do with chapbooks. I made a new chapbook this weekend. It's my fourth chapbook; I make them at home on my laser printer, and all of them have the same problem: The cover smudges a lot.
I use super-thin office copy paper (30% post-consumer recycled, happy Earth Day!) for the interior, usually 20lb stock. That works very well. For the cover, I use 67lb cover stock. I think the cover stock is so thick that the fuser element in my laser printer doesn't sufficiently heat the paper, so the toner wax never fully melts onto/into the paper. The books look great in my living room, but I'll toss a dozen in my bag, head to a reading, and when I arrive the covers are all smudged and, sometimes, hard to read.
My home laser printer is kind of bargain-basement, so sometimes I print my chapbook covers at work (shh!). Same deal.
I can print the covers on my ink-jet printer, but ink bleeds and smears when it gets wet. Condensation from the plumbing drips constantly on the merch table, so everything we sell at the Cantab has to be water-proof.
I tried ironing my covers after they came out of the printer, with mixed results. Some of the words are now good and fixed on the paper, not smudging at all, and some of the words are good and fixed on my ironing board. I'm a bit worried that when I next iron my shirts, I'm going to iron poetry into them.
I own a bunch of chapbooks from other poets, and they all have thick covers and no smudging, so clearly other people have solved this problem. Best practices, anybody? I'm happy to give free chapbooks to anyone who offers a workable solution.