Know Thy Paper
Before she even mentioned the word paper, she talked about trees. Lindenmeyr Vice President Janet McCarthy is probably one of the most well-educated paper professionals in the industry. And luckily for the participants of BookTech 2002 in New York City this week, her advice was welcomed from the ground(wood) up.
From fiber to coating, McCarthy provided a foundation in paper buying by discussing surfaces and selections in depth. "Groundwood paper is an economical way to get your message across," she admitted, "because chances are most flyers and newspapers will be thrown out." But in the book publishing industry, paper choices become more complicated. Light and wear contribute significantly to how a paper type is chosen. And where there's longevity, says McCarthy, there's also cost.
She explained that for the last few years, a multi-billion dollar project has been underway to reverse the damage to Library of Congress books. For years, books had not used acid-free papers within the manufacturing process, which has led to damage of these archived publications. "The pages have yellowed," describes McCarthy. She says that in today's market, paper buying must come down to this additional issue: How will a book survive? And can a publisher afford that guarantee?
McCarthy says yes, that by knowing the ins and outs of paper grades and types from the forest floor up, making economical decisions will also suit manufacturing ones. "Fiber, furnish and finish," she said. "Use these to determine your paper type."
She also noted that the key differentiating factor of an uncoated free sheet is opacity. While McCarthy may not have championed printing in the U.S. versus international printers, she did provide an important analysis of the distinction between how paper weights and types are defined. "With the metric system, there's no confusion," she said. In Europe, weights and size are measured according to that meter, whereas domestically, paper is broken down by standards and various cover and text stock. She advocated that understanding the conversion between these entities will save from costly mistakes. She also said that sometimes supplementing a heavier text stock for a cover stock can save money.