Idea Art testing new coated paper

After switching to a lower-weight, lightly matted coated paper stock in 1993 to combat rising costs, Idea Art this past spring returned to a fully coated sheet. Using a lightweight coated paper imported from France, the business-to-business cataloger of preprinted stationery products expects to keep down costs while still achieving optimum quality. And “if we can hold down our costs, that savings will ultimately trickle down to the customer,” says marketing director Rebecca Pierce. (When Idea Art switched to the lower-weight sheet in 1993, it was able to print a 96-page catalog at the same cost as printing a 72-page book on a 40-lb. sheet, without any drop-off in response.)

The Nashville-based Idea Art began testing the new paper on 5,000 spring catalogs. Called Primacoat, the new lightweight coated paper is from French paper mill Paperteries Du Leman (PDL) and is carried exclusively by Nashville-based Athens Paper Co. (Idea Art had previously printed on Microlux, a 27-lb. lightweight wood-free pigmented paper from Athens Paper.)

Higher quality, higher savings.

Similar to a #4 coated groundwood paper grade, Primacoat, typically used in dictionaries and schoolbooks, allowed Idea Art to upgrade to a coated sheet with more ink holdout and with an 87 brightness. In comparison, a #4 coated groundwood holds a 72 brightness. “Using a fully coated paper increases the sharpness, improves ink gloss, and has less dot gain than an uncoated or lightly coated paper,” Pierce says.

Still, “Primacoat costs more per pound,” says Chris Chamberlain, Athens Paper’s director of marketing, though he declined to provide prices. “The savings come in postage costs.” Because Primacoat is available in 34-lb., 37-lb., and 40-lb. weights, it lets catalogers use a lighter-weight paper while still printing on a good coated sheet, he says.

According to Pierce, although Primacoat costs more, Idea Art is using fewer pounds of paper overall, and by using a lower basis weight in its catalog, it is hoping to save as much as 30%-40% on postage.

The cataloger was still evaluating results at press time.