Books Are Physically Changing Because of Inflation – Slashdot
Rising paper prices are forcing publishers to change. Economist: Publishing can, then, find the paper for the things it wants to print, even in times of scarcity. The industry is currently experiencing another period of shortage, and war is once again a cause (along with the pandemic). In the past 12 months the cost of paper used by British book publishers has risen by 70%. Supplies are erratic as well as expensive: paper mills have taken to switching off on days when electricity is too pricey. The card used in hardback covers has at times been all but unobtainable. The entire trade is in trouble. Not every author is affected: a new thriller by Robert Galbraith, better known as J.K. Rowling, is a 1,024-page whopper — and this week reached the top of the bestseller lists in Britain. But other books are having to change a bit. Pick up a new release in a bookshop and if it is from a smaller publisher (for they are more affected by price rises) you may find yourself holding a product that, as wartime books did, bears the mark of its time.
Blow on its pages and they might lift and fall differently: cheaper, lighter paper is being used in some books. Peer closely at its print and you might notice that the letters jostle more closely together: some cost-conscious publishers are starting to shrink the white space between characters. The text might run closer to the edges of pages, too: the margins of publishing are shrinking, in every sense. Changes of this sort can cause anguish to publishers. A book is not merely words on a page, says Ivan O’Brien, head of The O’Brien Press in Ireland, but should appeal “to every single sense.” The pleasure of a book that feels right in the hand — not too light or too heavy; pages creamy; fonts beetle-black — is something that publishers strive to preserve. […] For at the heart of the publishing industry lies an unsayable truth: most people can’t write and most books are very bad. Readers who struggle with a volume often assume that the fault is theirs. Reviewers, who read many more books, know it is not.