Tips for Picking the Best Paper Source
Managing paper has become more complicated today because limited stock choices in standard roll sizes made for 32-page presses are long gone. Mills are now a blend of domestic and foreign ownership, and aside from readily offering foreign stocks, their domestic paper specifications have slowly changed, creating hybrid stocks with unique brightness, texture and bulking characteristics. Also, recycled stocks with more options, better specs and affordable prices are becoming available. And the new wide-web printing presses require new roll widths, which also require better imposition planning.
Paper sourcing has changed over the past five years, and vendors today are trying to remain competitive during a time of increasing prices and decreasing margins. They represent only so many stocks and are limited in what they can do with pricing; so, many are offering up-to-date market information through an array of electronic tools. Due to these services, publishers now have more resources to stay on top of market trends and better plan for upcoming changes.
But despite all the changes going on in the industry, paper is still provided by five basic sources: printers, merchants, brokers, mill-direct or spot buys. There are online sourcing services, but so far they appear to be just Web sites from merchants and brokers. Understanding the differences between the sources and determining how they fit your particular needs are critical when hiring a paper vendor.
There Are Differences Between Paper Merchants And Brokers. Both Are Independent Sales Forces That Represent Several Mills.
However, A Merchant Actually Takes Possession Of Paper (Paying For And Storing It) And Resells It To Publishers, While Brokers Sell Paper Without Actually Owning It. Merchants Do Better In Tight Markets Because Of Their Ability To Buy And Inventory Prior To Price Hikes. However, They Are Subject To Losses On Inventory In A Soft Market With Dropping Prices.