Are You Using the Right Paper?
Are you using the right paper for your magazine and are you buying it in the most efficient way? Should you buy direct from the mill? Or should you buy it through your printer.
Paper is available in many different grades, weights and brands from a variety of mills. It also can be purchased in a variety of different ways, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Publishers should select the type of paper that not only meets their customers’ requirements, but also works well in their printers’ machinery.
The weight of the paper used not only has an effect on the feel of the magazine (heavier paper will feel thicker and less easy to fold), but also impacts mailing costs. The heavier the paper, the more it will cost to mail.
If you’re looking to bulk up your publication, Sharad Agarwal, International Paper’s general manager of coated groundwood, suggests using matte paper. "Matte may absorb a bit more ink, but if you don’t have too many pages you might want to choose a matte paper for more bulk," he says. "It’s also useful to differentiate yourself from other publications."
Your Printer as Paper Merchant
If you’re looking to change the paper you use, your printer can be an invaluable resource. Publishers who choose to buy paper through their printer note that by going through their printer, they are guaranteed that their paper choice is well suited for both the manufacturing process and the end use. This is basically a no-brainer for publishers, as the printer takes care of all logistics and any quality or performance problems. The paper is usually invoiced as part of the final bill, leaving the publisher with a single invoice. However, the printer will usually marked up the paper by 10 to 20 percent and pass along the costs of storage to the publisher.
A good printer should help you manage the entire paper buying process. In addition to providing you with a good price for your paper, your printer should also help you with the following:
- Make Sense of Your Choices. Your printer should assist you in wading through the list of options and help you focus on a few choices that would be appropriate for your magazine.
- The Value of Samples. Your printer can provide you with paper samples,which will be an invaluable help is choosing the correct paper for your magazine. Some printers produce sample books showing the same images printed on various paper grades, which simplifies the comparison process. Ask your printer if you can be provided with samples of various paper grades with images from your magazine printed on them.
Since printers often can get better pricing on paper than a broker can offer or you can get directly from a mill, it makes sense to look to your printer as your main source for all things paper-related. Printers usually have arrangements with certain paper mills because they buy in large quantities. Your printer can offer you the benefit of its bulk purchasing if you are open to using their "house paper." Your printer has already gone through the process of "fingerprinting" various papers from a number of mills to make sure the paper’s chemistry and mechanical settings are compatible with their presses. This helps them avoid expensive make-readies and allows their presses to operate at top speeds with minimum production waste.
As a publisher, this translates into cost savings on your paper.
Projecting Your Image
However, one of the most important considerations when choosing a paper is probably one your printer can not help you with-the image your paper choice portrays.
For design/shelter magazine Dwell, its choice of paper came down to two things: which paper would portray their image of being "at home in the modern world" and how much it cost. "We chose matte paper because its easier to read, more subtle and portrays an image of modern minimalist, just like Dwell magazine," says Fran Fox, the magazine’s senior director of production and manufacturing. "We considered recycled paper, but found it was too expensive for our budget." She would not specify what the magazine’s budget was.
Dwell used to buy Somerset and Mead paper, but switched to Stora Enso’s NovaPress for the inside pages and Productolith Matte Cover for the covers. The NovaPress is 61# (or 61 pound) stock with a 91 brightness and the Productolith Matte Cover is 65# stock with 89 brightness.
"That choice was based on the quality of the paper and the price," Fox says.
The weight of a paper refers to its thickness and is measured in pounds. The higher the number, the thicker the paper. Brightness refers to the amount of light reflected back to the reader’s eye. The paper grades Premium, #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 are distinguished from one another based on brightness. Bleaching the paper to increase its brightness moves a printing sheet up the scale to a smaller number and increases its price.
International Paper’s Agarwal notes that a publisher’s choice of paper also has to take into consideration the magazine’s advertisers.
"The choice of stock is largely based on budget," he notes. "But you also have to consider what kinds of ads your publication is going to run and how your advertisers want to portray their products."