The Top 30 Book Manufacturers
Edwards: I believe that as paper [costs] go up, print quantities go down (which is not a bad thing for us), but less printing is not a good trend. In the worst case, publishers may look to an electronic version to lower their costs. That is not good for our industry.
Friesen: There is no doubt that we are seeing upward pressure on paper prices. Mill closures and consolidation mean that supply is tighter than it has been in many years in the book-paper space. We are also seeing longer lead times in sourcing paper, which is not helpful in our drive to cut production times.
Liess: To date, it is a cause for concern. Better planning is required due to more limited supply, but higher prices have not yet impacted demand.
Nason: The price and demand for paper doesn’t seem to be having a significant impact at this time. I do believe, however, that the price for FSC and SFI papers may have a neutralizing effect on the current intensity of the publishing community’s desire to “go green.” Only time will tell.
Upton: So far in 2008, our sales have been running slightly ahead of 2007. However, I’m concerned that the increase we’ve seen in paper prices over the last 18 months will begin to affect our sales as the year progresses. … I did hear some good news in early May, when John Maine of RISI [a publisher targeting the forest-products industry] addressed the Spring Management Conference of the Book Manufacturers’ Institute. John predicted that prices for uncoated free sheets (offset papers) would stabilize in the second half of this year, due to a softening of worldwide demand. If things work out as John predicts (and they often do), it would provide some welcome relief to the U.S. book industry.
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