New Paper Alternatives

By Wiener, Norman | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, November 1987 | Go to article overview
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New Paper Alternatives


Wiener, Norman, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


New paper alternatives

Publishers of consumer and business magazines will soon be able to choose from a variety of new paper grades to use in producing their magazines. The traditional glossy papers will be challenged by new matte-finished, high-brightness coated substrates, which offer four-color reproduction qualities to match the printed gloss generated from lightweight coated (LWC) papers.

Concurrently, new developments in the production of supercalendered (SC) papers are likely to challenge the traditional SC products being used today.

During 1986, magazine publishers consumed close to 2.9 million tons of paper. As shown in the accompanying chart, coated groundwood papers accounted for more than 66 percent of total U.S. consumption. In total, including coated free sheet papers, over 84 percent of all papers were coated. (Virtually all coated paper used for magazine publishing is glossy.) The use of other grades--newsprint, uncoated groundwood, supercalendered printing and uncoated free sheet papers--is still very limited. However, various studies conducted by Walker Wiener Associates during the past two years indicate that there are several developing trends in the kinds of papers used by magazine publishers. Some of the more important include the following:

A trend upward is noted in the basis weights used to produce magazines. This movement is largely predicated on the notion that the thicker the paper, the more expensive looking the sheet. (Catalog marketers have used this technique very successfully.)

The use of two different basis weights and relative grade qualities in the same magazine is another technique. Some publishers have effectively used higher basis weights for improving their single-copy (newsstand) sales. Mail subscribers' copies may be printed and distributed on lighter weights to save on postage costs.

The use of different paper grades in different markets is also practiced. Clearly, Nielsen "A' and "B' markets are the most important for advertisers. Some magazine publishers have used their best grades for delivery to readers in these markets, while printing those issues sent to the less important Nielsen markets on lower quality substrates.

The use of multiple paper grades in magazines also occurs. To a large degree, the growing use of multiple grades is being driven by the explosion in use of magazine inserts in both consumer and business books. Driven by the need to generate a consistent reprographic quality in multibook campaigns, many advertisers have found that the best advertising investment is a magazine insert. These are often printed on higher basis weight grades-- often 20 pounds higher than the regular run of press (ROP) grade--and, in an increasing number of cases, they are printed on higher quality coated papers (coated #1-3).

Some magazine publishers are upgrading the paper used for magazine covers. This has generated the development of a new #5 coated free sheet.

The newest competitor

The newest development in paper grades for magazine publishing has been the recent introduction of lightly treated coated (LTC) printing papers. Previously referred to as pigmentized papers or coated #6, this new grade descriptor seems closest to the grade's true definition. Lightly treated coated paper does not necessarily equate to lighter basis weights. Most of the newer grades being developed are available in basis weights up to 70 pounds (25 38/500 basis).

Finnish papers have been the most recent source of LTC papers. Grades with names such as Kymtech and Ensomatte are currently being sold in the U.S. market. A similar grade, Solaris, is expected to be introduced shortly. Jamsamatte, manufactured using a slightly different process concept, will also be competing in this grade.

In total, no more than 15,000 tons of these grades was imported during 1986.

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