The Cost of Paper

O’Reilly Radar has a piece from guest blogger, Nick Bilton, who works for the New York Times R&D Lab. In it, he canvasses some of the usual arguments that point to the eventual demise of paper. He’s most concerned with newspapers (of course) and I like the economic arguments he makes – which have more than some relevance to the book trade:

The cost of printing a national newspaper like the Wall Street Journal is close to $150k a day. That’s just for the newsprint. When you factor in printing plant rental or ownership fees, machine maintenance, shipping, and wages for plant employees, drivers, and packers, the final cost is hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Now if you have an average of 1,000,000 subscribers to the newspaper on a daily basis (this is a rounded-down average of a few top papers) and you stopped printing the paper, but instead gave your readers an eReader at $200 apiece, it would take fewer than six months for you to recoup your costs.

He doesn’t ignore books either, going on to suggest that:

 If you factor back in books and magazines, people who read more than one newspaper a day, and throw in the odd journal or two, you’ve got a multi-billion dollar industry that could collectively save billions of dollars a year by moving away from ink on paper.

Glad I’m not the only one thinking that way 🙂


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