Digital fails to see off paper

It is fairly obvious that in a digital society, the consumption of paper will decline.  Newspapers are seeing lower circulation, notices that were previously circulated in print are now sent as emails, and by and large digital rules the day.

Indeed the level of paper use by magazines, newspapers, book publishers and the like is predicted to fall to 21% of its 2010 levels by 2015, according to a report released by RISI, which provides information to the paper industry.

The report is called “The Impact of Media Tablets on Publication Paper Markets,” (a snappy title I am sure you will agree).  It predicts that tablet device sales will reach 195 million units by 2015 and this will be a further contributory factor in the decline in paper usage.

“Obviously many paper producers make their living selling paper to the publishing industry. Those companies will be greatly affected by media tablets,” John Maine, RISI’s VP-world graphic paper, said in a statement.

So is that it for paper?

No, most certainly not.  As I write this piece on a computer I have four sheets of paper on my desk.  One is for me to make notes on, the other three are items relating to my work which I want to see as I write – without having the hassle of flipping backwards and forwards on my computer.

I, like many others, don’t buy as many newspapers as I previously did.  I used to have two (yes two) a day.  Then one.  Then the Sunday went.  Then the dailies, leaving me with the Saturday edition.  Now that’s gone, and I read anything I want online.

And yet, the papers still survive, and when I have more time (such as during holidays and the like) I go back to buying and enjoy the more substantial articles which are a pain to read on line.

Which reminds me of a second point.  It is not just the growth of digital that is reducing the demand for paper – it is the speeding up of society, where it seems everything has to be done yesterday.

Now the key thing with trends is to remember that ultimately they stop.  Something happens and people decide not to follow that trend any more.  Those who were late to jump on the bandwagon find themselves left with acquisitions that are very much last year’s news.

So, what really is the future for paper?

There are already signs of a bounce back since more and more people are realising that everything sent by email can be seen by anyone who wants to see it, whereas documents can’t.  Also the look and feel of magazines has gone, and many (like me) find that a shame.

And this is why Admiral Document Storage is still here.  Rather than seeing an inexorable move to the end of paper as the opening quotes predicted, we are now seeing a growth not just in paper use, but also in paper storage.

If you have some paper you’d like to have stored for a later date, do get in touch.  We’re still here, and will be for a long time to come.

Among the things we store, I’m occasionally surprised

If a representative from a firm of solicitors or barristers turns up at the Admiral Document Storage I am hardly surprised, for legal companies invariably need to have stored in a very safe environment, deeds and other legal documentation.

But occasionally I see something else come in which not only takes me by surprise, but also is rather interesting in itself.

Now I must stress at this point that I absolutely don’t go mooching around the storage facility looking at all the different items people have stored.  Everything stored is treated as private and personal, unless of course the owner of the materials talks to me about it, and invites me to take a look.

The most recent situation in which this happened really did take me by surprise – not because I was bemused that someone would have such material, but rather that someone would want to stack it away in a storage facility.

True they can always come and inspect the materials and add more items, but even so…

In the case in question, a middle aged gentleman brought over a self-drive hire van with about 100 boxes in it.  He unloaded the contents himself and we did the necessary, so that he could come and inspect his materials at any time.

During the completion of the paperwork I got talking to him and asked what was in the boxes.

“Football programmes,” he told me.

Not being much of an aficionado of these items I replied with a vague, “Ah” but then in the silence which followed thought I ought to say more.

“You are a collector are you?” I asked feeling this was safe ground.

“Indeed,” he replied.

Another pause before I added…

“But don’t you want to keep your collection close by you?”   I realised of course that this might sound as if I was turning work away, which I certainly didn’t want to do, so I rapidly assured him that this was not the case.

“These are the duplicates,” he said.

I tentatively asked for an explanation.

“I always buy three copies of the programme when I go to a match.  One is filed away at home, and the other two are here – for the last three seasons.”

“So you’ve got a lot more at home?” I asked.

“About quarter of a million,” he said.  “I’ll be bringing another van load over in a week or so.”

“And why do you buy three copies of each one,” I ventured.

“Because slowly but surely the price rises.  Some games have incidents which become rarities because they are the first match for someone who became famous later, or perhaps the last match for a famous player, or indeed a match in which a famous incident occurs.”

“What sort of incident?” I said, not quite knowing where this was going.

“I’ll give you an example,” he said, which I felt was exactly what I needed at that moment.  “I have three copies of the programme for a game between Everton and Arsenal.  On the surface it was just another league game.   But it was more than that.  It was the first away defeat for Arsenal in over a year, and their first defeat in 30 games.  It was a match in which Wayne Rooney appeared, aged 16.  He came on as a substitute and scored his first league goal with an extraordinary shot in the last minute which made him the youngest ever goal scorer in the Premier League” 

“So these programmes are worth something?” I asked.

“That was in October 2002, so the programme is not that old, but its value is going up all the time.  It is now worth around £25, over ten times its value.”

We paused for a moment.  “That might not seem a lot of profit to you,” he said, and he was right. It didn’t.  “But all programmes gradually go up in value – some particularly quickly.  I am leaving a golden mountain to my son.”

I told him I was sure he would appreciate it and we went our separate ways.