If you need a reason to get into the paper sales business, try this one: It's everywhere. It's the lifeblood of the print industry, a necessity for virtually every project. Everybody needs it, from marketers running cross-media campaigns to corporate offices looking for stationery.
But you knew all that already.
What you might not know is just how cutting-edge paper is, how many varieties there are and their myriad applications. Paper manufacturers, facing increased pressure from digital competition, have been innovating like never before, resulting in a host of new products and features.
That's good news for distributors looking to diversify their product offering or start selling paper outright, but it's a lot to keep track of. Don't know about digital substrates, synthetic materials and sustainability features? Don't worry. Read on for an update on all that and more.
For as long as the Internet has existed, analysts have predicted the impending demise of print, and by extension, paper. The smartphone and tablet would hurry that demise along, they said, leading to an era where print media was a novelty at best. We know now that that's hardly the case—according to USA Today, e-book sales are up 4,456 percent since 2008, but still account for just 20 percent of total book sales—and to some extent, the reverse has been true. "In the digital age in which we live, consumers are rediscovering the importance of tangible objects that have permanence," said Diane O'Connor, director of public relations for Mohawk, Cohoes, N.Y. "We've seen a resurgence of consumers who want the tactile experience of reading a magazine or a report on fine paper."
Even as many print operations shift to digital formats, the market for paper products has remained strong. There are a number of reasons for this, but two stand out. For one, print operations aren't necessarily being phased out, just scaled back. Most publishers still offer print editions of their magazines to accompany digital editions. More people are opting to e-file tax forms, but plenty still file on paper forms or want hard copies for their records. Direct mail remains integral to marketing communications. And so on.