While returning from visiting a client a few days ago, I found myself stuck in the moving carpark called to M25. A 15 mile stretch with 3 accidents and an hour’s delay! 

So, my mind did wonder a little to the areas of cost, prices technology and inflation in the past 5-6 decades and how they have affected the printing industry.

Firstly, paper prices crossed my mind. In 1988 I was working for a printer called Ashdown Press. We ran two Heidelberg 102CD’s  5 colour sheet fed offset presses with a full inhouse pre-press setup based on SciTex technology. One of our markets was the commercial property area and we produced many 4pp A4 colour leaflets announcing new developments. These were printed on a 130gsm Woodfree double coated paper.

We thought at the time we were getting a very good prices at around £1,100-£1,300 a tonne. I believe a similar paper will now cost around £700-£800 paper tonne.

A low estimate of the UK inflation over this 33 year period would be 300%! Paper making technology has changed and is much more efficient, but surely papers prices should have increased in line with other commodities?

This then bought my mind in the stationery traffic to print prices. That 4pp A4 leaflet in 1988 would have cost around £900 to £1,100 dependent on the number of images to be scanned. Pre-press would have been at least 30% of the cost. Apply 300% inflation…….!

Looking online today the same specification with a 4 day delivery the prices range from £90 to £140 to £450. Little prepress is needed.

So printing is so much cheaper now due to reduced paper costs and massive advances in print technologies. In these remembered and researched figures, one could say that print prices are now less then 80% of the 1989 prices, taking inflation into account. Surely this should make the printed product a very attractive medium.

So, have the print and paper industry given away all the technical advances to the client as cost savings?

I will leave that to the reader to muse on.




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