New Trends Emerge as Publishers Aim to Curb Costs
Spath says, "You could buy a 45 # uncoated groundwood which bulks to 400 ppi vs. a 50 # uncoated freesheet which also bulks to a 400 ppi, so given the same pricing, you're getting a 10-percent yield advantage."
Despite such potential advantages, Spath says, "There is some interest
there, but at the same time, uncoated groundwood does undergo color reversion after a period of time, and some publishers are willing to live with that because of the lower costs, but others are not and haven't gone in that direction."
Any switch to groundwood papers has reportedly been inspired by cost and getting more for the money. In every segment of publishing—from magazines to catalogs to books—publishers are exploring ways to cut costs, including exploring changes in their paper usage.
Some constituents of the book publishing industry have less flexibility than others, however. "Textbooks need to meet National Association of State Textbook Administrators specifications," says Orso. So "each publisher is limited in their quest for the best product. Although foreign manufacturers offer papers at reduced prices, meeting NASTA is a real problem (opacity is usually too low). So, most publishers use the same domestic paper from very few mills and forgo the foreign manufacturers," he explains.
Workbooks, which Orso notes do not need to meet the same type of criteria, are generally "printed on the least expensive grades possible that offer decent print quality. The trend in the workbook market has been to move off of coated groundwood and use uncoated groundwood whenever possible," he says. "Almost all workbooks for school (k-12) are printed on uncoated groundwood."
Fueling More Cost Concern
Publishers will have to continue to find new ways to keep manufacturing costs in line as paper prices are expected to continue to increase. Zampini suggests that pulp and energy costs will continue to drive up paper costs.