As digital content distribution surges, growth in the demand for graphic paper is contracting.
In some cases, e-distribution can serve as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, hard-copy distribution, whether it’s newspaper content or reference material. The strength of the substitution effect varies by paper grade and market. But there’s no disputing the overall trend, and that trend will persist and strengthen over the next decade.
Four important digital-substitution levers are critical—e-media, which provide digital content that can be accessed with personal computers; e-devices, such as the Kindle and iPad, which provide an additional, portable means of accessing digital content; e-advertising, or the shift from paper-based ads to digital ones; and e-archiving and e-distribution.
These four levers will have successive impacts, each diminishing the demand that remains after the effects of the previous lever. The levers will likely be mutually reinforcing: wider use of e-devices, for example, will lead advertisers to spend more on e-advertising than on the offline, hard-copy equivalents.
Here are the effects each of the four levers has on the primary applications for graphic paper—newspapers, directories, magazines, catalogs, advertising, books, and office paper: