The cost of printing books and other papers has fallen by over 50% in just 10 years, according to the Association of American Publishers.
This is the result of an “economic shock” which has affected the whole industry, according Paul O’Neill, a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Cambridge.
The news has been met with widespread optimism, with the US Government’s Office of Science publishing a report earlier this year which suggested the rise in paper prices could be offset by a rise in the cost of electronic media.
However, Professor O’Neil said the trend was far from over.
“I think this is going to be an ongoing phenomenon,” he said.
“The question is, how much will it cost us to pay for that digital media?
How much will we have to pay to make the same amount of paper?”
The answer is we’ll have to go to other things.
We’re going to have to get more efficient.
“The cost of producing paper from ink, and the cost to the printer to make a printed book, is not being taken into account in the report.
The cost to print books has increased by 25% since 2000, and about 90% of books sold in America have been sold digitally, the report found.
Professor O’Donnell said it was “hard to see how the cost can be recovered”.”
There are lots of things you can do that will make it easier to produce, cheaper, more efficient,” he explained.”
We can put in more ink, use machines that have more power, and use better printers.
“The number of paper books sold has fallen from 3.3 million in 2000 to 2.5 million in 2015.
But it is a trend that has been happening for decades, and is likely to continue, Professor Michael Deane, director of the Institute of Information Studies at the London School of Economics, told the BBC.”
There is a fundamental mismatch between the cost and the benefits,” he added.”
It’s just that we’ve been doing it for so long that people are still quite reluctant to make that switch.
“Mr O’Brien, from the University College London, said the rise was not a good thing for the industry.”
You are not getting anything out of it, it’s just a different kind of paper,” he told RTE.”
At the end of the day, if you are going to sell papers you want them to be as good as possible.
“If you are buying paper, it is worth the price to buy a book.”
The study found the biggest impact of the change had been to the costs of production and shipping.
The price of ink for a 1.8in (3cm) by 1.7in (6cm) print on a 4cm by 3cm (1.25 by 1) board had dropped by over 25% in the decade to 2015, from £1.29 to £1 at a time when the cost per 1cm rose by about 50%.
But the cost for the production and delivery of a book was only $1.60 per book, down from $2.10 a year earlier.
“This has been the most dramatic effect,” Professor O.
He said that as more people moved to the digital age, the price increase was “very disruptive”.
“People can now have a cheap printer and make a book that’s just as good for printing as they can make a piece of paper, and it doesn’t require much investment.”
He said the cost was likely to be a significant part of the equation.
“Even if the paper costs are lower than the printing costs, it will still be quite a significant chunk of the total costs of the paper industry,” he noted.
Professor Deane said there was a need for greater collaboration between the industry and the government, but said the research was encouraging.
“That is an area where the Government is really taking the lead,” he stressed.
“They have the ability to get this price down, but they’re going about it with all the resources they can get.”