Postal Remedy: New, Lighter Papers
Test All the Time
Mailers such as Design Toscano and others are testing various paper weights all the time. “You should be testing all the time, anyway,” says Phil Minix, former senior vice president at crafts books cataloger Reiman Publications, who recently was named president of multititle general merchandise cataloger Astral Direct. “It shouldn’t be just because of postal increases,” he adds. “I’ve never had a downgraded paper test lose. The cost savings have always outweighed the response decline.”
Minix previously tested 33 lb, No. 4 basis weight supercalendered and a 45 lb, No. 4 for the cover — ahead of the 2002 postal increase.
For the Astral Direct catalogs he oversees — Linda Anderson, The Music Stand and Characters — “All those titles have room to test down,” Minix says. Even for upscale titles, including those at Astral, Minix suggests: “Test down one grade. Then you’ll know.”
That’s if you can find the right paper to test. John Sangster, vice president of Miners Inc., a cataloger of mining and engineering supplies, hasn’t found a lighter weight paper that can handle the amount of black-and-white pictures Miners Inc. uses on its 224-page, digest-size catalog without bleeding through. “We’re using 40 lb,” he says. “We’d like to go below 40, but for the amount of pictures that we use, I don’t think we can.”
While many other catalogers also are opting to try lighter papers, some are just reducing circulation. Miami-based cosmetics cataloger Key West Aloe used to publish three, 24-page catalogs a year, but reduced it to one after the 2002 postal increases, says CEO Nalin Patel.
Key West Aloe sends out 50,000 catalogs in late July and supplements the main book with two postcards and one glossy flier, says its graphic designer, Vanessa Torres. She has researched other options, but still uses 60 lb, glossy text paper. “If there’s something new out there, I’ll ask the printer for advice,” she says. “But right now we’re in a safe zone, and we can’t do any less.”