Top 30 Book Manufacturers
How has the price and demand for paper affected the market?
Edwards: Paper prices are going up, especially the commodities and the free sheets. And the demand is getting tighter, although we have been able to get what we need for now. I think what ultimately happens is that as paper [prices go] up, people buy less. So what I worry about is that as paper [prices go] up, as mills shut down and the capacity gets tight, the publisher that buys 5,000 units is going to buy 3,500—which ultimately means there is less demand for what we do. For Edwards Brothers, shorter is better, since we are a short-run player. Overall, it is a bad thing for our industry.
Long: The increased paper prices have put additional pressure on our customers to find additional ways to reduce their costs. This primarily includes the cheapening of materials used to construct the books. The availability of paper has been very tight, and this has put pressure on our Paper Supply Program as publishers have turned to Maple-Vail to supply paper when they are unable to locate paper directly for upcoming projects. The reduction in domestic paper capacity is creating supply problems throughout the marketplace.
Reisch: Our market has primarily been impacted by the increase in price and tighter supply of uncoated free sheet web. This has been driven by the significant reduction in mill capacity, which has also resulted in shortages at certain times this year. All of these factors have caused customers in certain instances to delay, cancel or reduce order counts for specific jobs or alter the paper stock for those jobs.
Tobin: Availability has gotten tight, and turn-times have gotten longer. There has been capacity taken out. … [This] has given us the opportunity to expand some of our paper programs and provide more paper for some of the publishers who have provided their own in the past. And, actually, there have been a lot of instances where publishers have been looking for alternate papers, both to save money and improve availability. They typically spec one particular type of paper, and they have been asking us to help them find various alternatives. It allows us to be more of a partner and provide them with more options.