The Changing of Standards
Much of the newer groundwood capacity is coming from older, upgraded newsprint machines. A cooperative effort between Weyerhaeuser and Nippon Paper Industries has converted some capacity of the North Pacific Paper Corp. (NORPAC) mill in Longview, Wash., from producing newsprint to making Hi-Brite grades and an uncoated groundwood called Sonora Book.
Glatfelter and Weyerhaeuser are two of the largest manufacturers of uncoated freesheet book stocks. As uncoated groundwood grades continue to make solid inroads into the freesheet arena, some mills are just shifting customers from one grade to another. “Weyerhaeuser is having a record year in the freesheet market,” says Mike Spath, director of sales, publishing papers, Weyerhaeuser. “The growth of groundwoods in the book market has not hurt our freesheet sales. Our groundwood book accounts represent incremental business for us, and if an existing freesheet customer must switch to groundwood, we can offer Sonora Book.”
But both Abitibi and Bowater—newsprint and uncoated groundwood manufacturers—have reported new growth from the book industry.
Bob Obernier, chairman of Horizon Paper, has also seen some changes. “Publishers are looking at paper in ways they never did before,” he says. Although he sells freesheet and groundwood papers, he says he can’t help but be concerned over the use of groundwoods in hardcover books, because, he notes, “the paper will age.”
The Bottom Line
It is no doubt that book publishers are using paper in different ways to help maintain their profitability. As a publishing professional, I can emphasize with and appreciate the creativity of paper usage and cost-cutting measures. As a consumer, collector and avid reader of books, I worry about the long-term quality of books produced today.
Books may be nothing more than a quarterly figure to their stockholders, but to me, they are documenting our world, preserving history, and need to last for many, many generations.