As publishers built up their supply of books to meet the surge in reader demand, many are now finding they have excess inventory on hand as the market softens. The impact of both the rise and leveling of orders trickles down the supply chain and impacts printers and material availability, specifically with regard to paper.
While publishers were busying building up their supply of books in the last few years, printers were busy buying what paper they could at a rapid pace, and many paper grades were put on allocation. Now with the publishing market softening, the paper market is becoming more stable, and printers are finding that they also have more paper in inventory to use up.
Trends & Predictions
With printers and merchants having accumulated excess inventory, they are using that rather than ordering more – thus creating available capacity at mills. The expectation is that the paper market will be generally soft for the first half of 2023 with improving availability and stable pricing. Most mills are not stating that they have come off allocation, but printers (including Sheridan) are finding that they are able to order more than have been allocated.
The second half of the year is more challenging to predict, and the overall economy will be a major factor in which way things turn. Mills are expecting a pickup in business later in the year – as printers work through their excess inventory and begin to order more – and a return to tighter availability and stricter allocations is once again possible.
Cartons, Cloth, and More
In general, availability of materials and supplies are improving this year. Order times for cartons, glue, binder boards, etc. have all improved. In addition, book cloth mills are beginning to offer more choices for color and availability.
Developing Partnerships that Deliver
“CJK Group has developed strong relationships with mills and suppliers, and over the past 15 months we have been developing expanded relationships and rebuilding allocations with numerous freesheet offset vendors,” remarks Martin Sullivan, Director of Procurement for CJK Group. “We have a healthy allocation of most paper grades now, including freesheet offset. The recent announcement of CvG’s bankruptcy has a small impact on treated inkjet paper for Sheridan, but we are in the process of testing alternatives and are positioning ourselves to be in a good place, should they close.”
While we can’t say with certainty what future the paper market holds for us, rest assured that Sheridan and CJK Group are proactive in securing the stock – and materials – that our customers need.