A Primer on Selecting Alternative Book Papers
Mills have traditionally heavily promoted their high-quality papers made from virgin fiber stocks. But technological changes in recent years have made available other types of stocks—in particular: recycled, synthetic and groundwood substrates. Each of these papers offer characteristics that are different from papers made from virgin fibers. Here are a few important considerations for each of these paper stock “alternatives.”
Many publishers are feeling pressure from environmental groups to use recycled papers, which often are sold at a premium, while the post-consumer content still hovers at around 10 percent. However, characteristics for papers used by magazines, catalogs, newspapers and flyers have improved to a point that it is now a viable alternative. These lightweight text stocks have more post-consumer content (30 percent to 100 percent), and are brighter, whiter and, more importantly, price-competitive to virgin fiber stocks. But book stocks have not yet seen such advancements on a wide scale, except in groundwood stocks used by mass-market paperbacks.
Random House Inc. led the way this year when it announced that by 2010 at least 30 percent of the uncoated paper it uses to print the majority of its U.S. titles will be from recycled fibers.
Other environmentally conscious publishers focus on responsible forest practices and sustainability issues and put a priority on using suppliers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
The most compelling reason for some publishers to use a recycled stock is to enhance a book’s overall message or to help convey the publisher’s ideals.
Synthetic papers offer unique characteristics not usually related to paper: tear-, water-, chemical- and grease-resistance, as well as UV stability. However, for certain types of books, they can add a completely new dimension.
Publishers of books that are read near water (baths, pools, spas or for any water sport) benefit from water-resistance. High-usage books in messy environments (cookbooks, instruction manuals, or first aid, emergency preparedness or landscaping books, etc.) benefit from their durability and ability to be wiped clean. You can even sanitize them with disinfectants or medically sterilize them with Gamma irradiation—ideal for children’s books and hospital reference manuals.
- American National Standards Institute
- ARJOBEX N.A.
- Bowater Incorporated
- Forest Stewardship Council
- Frye Publication Consulting
- HOP Industries Corp
- North Pacific Paper Corporation
- Oji-Yuka Synthetic Paper Co.
- Penguin Group (USA)
- PPG Industries
- Random House Inc.
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.
- Transilwrap Co. Inc.
- Warner Books Group