You may find it hard to believe, but many major printer manufacturers do not supply a USB cable in the box when you buy a new printer. You open the box, diligently reading the instruction booklet, you install the ink cartridges, you're about to print your first photograph and you realise there's no USB printer cable. It's up to your to source one. Many believe the reasons for this are twofold. Firstly the printer manufacturers can make extra money if your buy their own over priced cables. Another reason is to leave some profit for the shop you buy the printer from, they make more selling you an overpriced cable than they do selling the printer. But do you need to by the manufacturers own brand, the answer is simple, no you don't.
You can save yourself a small fortune by buying an independent branded cable. The vast majority of USB printers use a standard USB A to B printer cable. This is probably the most common USB cable on the planet. The flat end, A, plugs into your computer, the other B end which looks similar in shape to a trapeziod goes in to the printer. These USB cables are available at all computer accessory shops and websites. The manufacturers original would cost in the region of fifteen pounds in the United Kingdom, whilst an independent cable will cost from as little as three pounds.
One thing to ensure when buying an independent cable is to check you are buying a USB version 2.0. Some cables available are the older slower USB version 1.1 or even version 1. The cables look identical, the only difference is the speed at which data is transferred. USB version 2.0 cables can transfer data at speeds of 480 mbs. Version 1.1 and version 1 cables have speeds of 12 mbs and 1 mbs respectively. The newer USB version 3 launched in 2008 has even higher data transfer speeds of 5000 mbs. But these newer cables use a different version of the B plug and they will not be compatible.
You can even opt for a longer cable. USB cables can be used at lengths of 5 meters. You can't go over 5 meters with a standard cable as the signal is not capable of going over 5 meters. If you need a longer cable you can use a USB Active Repeater cable, these amplify the signal as it passes along the cable.
Wherever you choose to buy your cable, it's important to remember you don't have to purchase the manufacturers original. Try buying from an online store, many offer expedited delivery services.