Rising paper prices are affecting everything from books and magazines to toilet paper

Rolls of paper in the hold of a ship
A longshoreman works on securing huge rolls of paper in the hold of a ship.

On July 18, 2022, the publishing giant Ingram will be hiking prices on book production overall by about 6 percent. Front Edge Publishing’s supply chain uses Ingram’s Lightning Source system, a global network of book production, to provide our books reliably to readers across North America and around the world.

Our entire community of authors is caught up in a worldwide shortage of paper that is affecting newspapers, magazines and anyone who uses toilet paper—so that’s all of us!

As a result, our publishing house will be adjusting prices for discounted group orders of our books that are popular with small groups. We won’t be able to discount quite as deeply for group orders, given this price hike that’s coming our way. Meanwhile, most of our suggested retail prices listed on Amazon (and other online retailers and independent bookstores) will remain unchanged, despite the price hike by Ingram-LSI. Yes, we may need to slightly hike the retail prices on a small number of our books. But the bottom line is: These rising prices will tighten the shares available for royalties when books are sold. Naturally, like every publisher around the world, we will be in dialogue with our authors and customers about rising paper prices. The structure of these American price hikes involve complex changes in a whole series of Ingram-LSI policies, which we will have to fully discern through the summer.

The point of this column is to provide some further reading about the scope of this shortage so that our authors and readers can learn more about the underlying issues.

Here’s a good starting point from Bloomberg on May 6, 2022: A Squeeze in Pulp Supply Is Raising Risk of Pricier Toilet Paper. The story looks generally at supplies of paper pulp, which is part of the larger issue in this shortage. Bloomberg says in part: 

Pulp inventories have been falling so much around the world that Suzano SA, the global top producer, sees a risk of a supply shortage, possibly leading to higher prices of such essential items as tissue and toilet paper. Russia is an important source of wood for Europe, and this trade has been completely blocked since the invasion of Ukraine, according to Suzano Chief Executive Officer Walter Schalka. Russian wood also lost global certifications. That means pulp producers in Europe, especially in Scandinavia, will have their production capacity curbed.

To dig deeper into the paper-supply issues affecting books, this February Publishers Weekly article outlines a number of the underling challenges. Looking for answers to paper shortages. That PW story was published on February 24, 2022, the same day that Russia invaded Ukraine—a historic turning-point that has worsened supplies of paper products.

To illustrate the global concern, here’s an English-language report from the major Indian newspaper, The Hindu. Here’s a headline from that newspaper’s Business Insider section on June 2, 2022: Pay more for notebooks, textbooks as paper makers hike prices from June 1. Want another perspective? Here’s a story from the Indian edition of PrintWeek magazine: Print problems aggravate, as paper prices keep rising

Finally, let’s look elsewhere around the world. Our publishing house regularly sells books in Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. Here’s a story from New Zealand: Stop the presses? The rising cost of newsprint.

If this story prompts further questions, please contact us.

About David Crumm

David Crumm is founding Editor of Front Edge Publishing. Nationally, he is known as a veteran journalist—a top writer and editor—with experience both in the U.S. and overseas. He is based in Canton, Michigan, where he also serves as Editor of Read the Spirit online magazine. His columns on trends in media appear twice a month on our Front Edge Publishing website.

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