Trends to Track in the Paper Market
After several decades of economical growth, China has developed a huge appetite for paper. Given its phenomenal growth, it is obvious it first has to feed its own paper needs, which the latest estimates suggest will be more than 60 percent of the future world paper growth. Immediately flooding the North American market with low-cost paper seems unrealistic. More likely will be spot opportunities for select customers, and if the rumors are true, available only at a couple of printers.
Paper remains a critical element of a publication. Even though brands, grades, roll widths and sources have changed, paper management has actually become easier. Paper buyers have tools and resources that never existed before, and like all elements of publishing, paper management is also evolving.
Paper is both a subjective and objective purchase. People perceive different characteristics as the basis of judging “quality.” Competitors, advertisers and egos are all part of the selection process, and paper is one of your biggest impression-makers.
At the same time, it is one of your largest expenditures, and its management is more critical today than ever with high fuel and energy costs. Selecting a paper source that is geographically close also reduces shipping cost and should be another factor in selection.
Whatever paper you use, take advantage of the tools offered by printers to help manage the ordering process. These tools are constantly evolving as printers strive to be more resourceful and valuable to their customers.
Steven W. Frye is owner of Frye Publication Consulting in Hailey, Idaho. He is an expert in magazine- and catalog-production processes, and has negotiated printing, paper and distribution contracts for dozens of publishers. He can be reached at Steve@SteveFrye.com.