Actually we don’t store many newspapers. But where we do, there’s always something to learn

Some people assume that we store newspapers. I am not quite sure why they do that – maybe it is the image of the eccentric recluse with a complete set of every edition of Picture Post, or something like that, running out of space and turning to the local storage facility that they have in mind.

The truth is that we do have some newspaper collections at Admiral Document Storage – but not that many.

But even though I seek to disabuse people and point out that storing newspapers is not really what we are about, my protests don’t put people off.

And when I say that actually newspapers have never been a central issue for us I get a sly look as if to say, “you’re only saying that, but I know the truth”, followed by a comment about how we must be in trouble now that newspapers are in terminal decline.

Now, although any decline there is in the number of newspapers and their coverage is not of direct relevance to us, this is still a point that interests me, not least because, as with so many things in this world, the predictions made and the general beliefs as to what is going on are a long way from reality.

Newspapers in the UK do have a problem. Or rather they have three problems. But I am not sure that they are about to go out of existence.

First among the problems, the fact that the news and the feature articles are available on the internet reduces readership and this reduces income from readers.

Second, the cost of producing newspapers has gone up, due to rises in the cost of newsprint.

Third, advertisers have deserted the newspapers and gone to the internet.

In retaliation the newspapers have tried to sell advertisements in their on-line editions, but this income has nowhere near covered the losses experienced as a result of the three points above.

But curiously, not that many newspapers have folded. True, lots of the regional and local papers have moved across to being free publications – the Evening Standard in London being one of the most famous – but most of them are still there one way or another. The Mail, the Post, and the Express and Star are all still with us in the West Midlands.

Where there is a change is in the loss of journalists – the number is said to have dropped by around 25% in the past ten years.

But that is a very inward-looking issue – because aside from storing some collections of UK and local newspapers, I happen to know that we also have a collection of Chinese newspapers here.

I’ve no idea why – and of course I don’t ask my customers – I just pass on information if they choose to pass it on to me, and also (most importantly) tell me that it is ok for me to mention what they store in this blog. But in the course of finding out that we do indeed have Chinese newspapers here I also found out that the Chinese are the biggest devourers of newspapers in the world.

Now of course the population of that country is enormous, but even so, selling around 120 million newspapers a day, each day, is fairly amazing. (The number in Britain is around 17 million. In the USA it is 55 million.)

We also, very curiously, have a number of editions of a newspaper called Trud which I happened to see one day. My customer told me a most remarkable story about them.

This newspaper (Trud) was published during the days of the Soviet Union and it had a daily circulation of over 21 million. But this was nothing compared to the weekly paper with the absolutely glorious name of Argumenty i Fakty which had a circulation closer to 35 million a week at its height.

I wonder if anyone read it.

Compare this with Britain’s top selling paper, The Sun, which has a positively measly circulation of just 3 million.

In the USA they see things rather differently, and I have often wondered if any American travellers come to the UK and tell their hotel to deliver the nation’s top selling paper to their room each day. I mention this because their expectations might be unsettled. The top selling paper in the US is the Wall Street Journal.

Just in case you are interested, The Times of India is the third largest newspaper in India by circulation. Again I mention it because I have seen a few copies in our warehouse.

Of course my job is to run the facility, not look at what we are storing, but I am always happy to share information with my customers – where they wish to do so.

Somehow it seems to make life just a little more exciting.

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