The ongoing paper supply chain shortages are creating significant challenges for organizations who need to print time-sensitive materials like conference program booklets and training manuals. Use these 4 tips to ensure your materials are printed on-time and on-budget.
Why is Paper in Such Short Supply Right Now?
The challenges facing a post-pandemic paper industry are the result of a “perfect storm” of three factors:
- Over the past decade, the number of paper mills available to manufacture paper have been declining. Some major paper mills have closed—both domestically and globally—while others converted operations from making printing and writing-grade paper to packing-grade paper.
- Meanwhile, demand for print has increased as organizations emerge from two years of virtual delivery of just about everything, from marketing to educational materials.
- Labor shortages directly impact both manufacturing and shipping of both the raw materials to make paper and the finished product.
Despite These Challenges, Print is Absolutely Still an Option!
Many organizations learned during the pandemic that end users—including course participants and conference attendees—still really love having a tangible, printed piece, even as a compliment to virtual content. Printed materials help facilitate deeper learning and retention and serve as an ongoing reference piece long after the course or conference ends.
Continuing to offer printed course and conference materials is still very much an option for organizations. But it is going to take a bit more flexibility and planning to help everything run smoothly.
4 Tips for a Successful Print Project
Secure your paper early
If you know you are going to need to print materials, start communicating with your printer as early and often as possible. Well before the files are ready, have at least a general sense of the specifications of your book (finished size and approximate page count), print quantity, and timeline so the printer can allocate paper in their inventory specifically for your project. You may have to pre-pay a portion of the final project cost to secure a paper allotment, but you will have the peace of mind knowing it’s set aside specifically for you.
Be flexible with paper choice
Overall, it’s not impossible to find paper right now. But it may be difficult-to-impossible to find a very specific brand or finish of paper. What is most important in paper selection is the weight of the paper and whether it’s coated or uncoated, as both of affect not only the look but also the usability and functionality of the piece. For example:
- If you’re printing a book with a high page count, you may want a lighter weight paper to prevent the book from being too bulky.
- If your booklet features large, full-color graphics and images with lots of detail, you’ll want a heavier stock, so the images don’t bleed through to the other side of the page.
- If you’re printing a workbook where users will want to take notes, an uncoated stock works best.
- If it’s a piece that will be handled frequently, you may want to use coated stock on the cover for greater protection.
Help your printer understand not only the specifications of your piece, but how it’s going to be used. With that information they can propose alternative paper stocks that are not only available, but will still result in a usable, high-quality piece.
Standardize the size of your piece
Many designers love to create a piece that is “off-size” for dramatic or artistic effect. A square book, for instance stands out from the standard 8-1/2×11 booklet. But the more your piece adheres to “standard” paper stock sizes, the easier it will be to source paper for your project. These sizes include:
- 5-1/2” x 8-1/2”
- 8-1/2” x 11”
Leverage the expertise of your project manager
At Omnipress, every customer is assigned a dedicated project manager who not only manages all project details, but they serve as a resource to help you navigate your options. By involving them early, they can guide you through the process and provide ideas, so your project goes off without a hitch, and the end product is just what you expected.