Pounds change physically due to inflation

The rise in paper prices is forcing publishers to change. Economist: Publishing can then find the paper for the things it wants to print, even in times of shortage. The industry is currently experiencing a new period of shortage, and the war is again in question (with the pandemic). Over the past 12 months, the cost of paper used by UK book publishers has increased by 70%. The supply is irregular and expensive: paper mills have become accustomed to shutting down on days when electricity is too expensive. The map used in the hardcovers has sometimes been virtually impossible to find. The whole trade is in trouble. Not all writers are concerned: a new thriller from Robert Galbraith, better known as JK Rowling, is a 1,024-page whopper – and this week has topped Britain’s bestseller lists. But other books need to change a bit. Pick up a new issue from a bookstore and if it’s from a smaller publisher (because they’re more affected by price increases) you might find yourself in possession of a product which, like war books, bears the mark of its time.

Blow on its pages and they might rise and fall differently: Cheaper, lighter paper is used in some books. Look closely at its print and you may notice that the letters jostle more closely together: some cost-conscious publishers are starting to reduce the white space between characters. The text can also move closer to the edges of the pages: the publication margins shrink, in all directions. Such changes can cause editors anxiety. A book is not just words on a page, says Ivan O’Brien, director of The O’Brien Press in Ireland, but must appeal to “all the senses”. The pleasure of a book that feels good in the hand – neither too light nor too heavy; creamy pages; fonts beetle-black — is something the editors strive to preserve. […] Because at the heart of the publishing industry is an untold truth: most people can’t write, and most books are terrible. Readers who struggle with a volume often assume that the fault is theirs. Critics, who have read many more books, know that is not the case.

Colin L. Johnson