Frankly Speaking: Paper Will be the New Gold

Frank Romano
Jul 12, 2013

As paper volumes drop because of electronic substitution, and paper mills cut capacity to sync with demand, paper will become a rare commodity. And rare commodities are worth a lot of money.

I would start hoarding paper now instead of gold and silver. Some day, we will have new denominations based on sheets, reams, cases, and of course, rolls of paper. It may not be uncommon to hear “Can I change one sheet of Mohawk Superfine for two sheets of bond?”

Every day I receive mailings urging me to go paperless. Oops, I just used the dreaded p-word and can probably expect a nasty letter from the PIA. But the fact is, as more and more of us communicate with our bank, credit card companies, and other institutions electronically, there is less paper than ever before. It was Wang that used the term “paperless office” in the 1970s. Today offices are Wangless.

The paperless crowd does stretch the truth when they say that going paperless cuts energy and cost. El toro poo poo. I do not get my electricity for nothing and someone somewhere is burning something to make those amps. The other day there was a storm and my power went out. My iPhone battery got me through a few hours, but then I was in withdrawal. I did use a flashlight to read my mail. Did you know that paper does not glow in the dark?

This is the new world we live in. We are dependent on our gadgets to connect us to one another and glean a lot of our information. It was only 40 years ago that the first cell phone was made. Fortunately there were two of them. Think of it–very few of us have a physical IN Box. There is very little to put in it.

So what’s a printer to do? Find the print products that will continue. Packaging is easy. Promotional material still has legs. InfoTrends is now tracking functional printing, one of the most exciting opportunities for those who know how to put some kind of substance on some kind of substrate–plastic, glass, ceramics, carpet, textiles, oh, and paper.

Many printers are making money with wide format inkjet, a market that did not exist as such prior to 2000. Digital color printing only came into major use in the late 1990s. As an industry, we are making money with products and services that did not exist a decade or two ago. What other surprises await us?

Crane Paper paper is used to print our currency; eventually blank Crane Paper paper could be our currency.

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