The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 3, Number 2
May 1990


Several institutions have reported being charged a higher price for alkaline paper than for the corresponding grade of acidic paper. Readers who know of such instances are invited to call or notify the Newsletter office, so the source of the problem can be identified. Does the problem only arise when bids are invited? or when alkalinity is added to the list of specs? Does it occur when paper is bought by brand name? Who is making the decision to add a surcharge?

The problem is described in a March 30, 1990, report of the Paper Standards Committee of the Florida Bureau of Archives and Records Management recently forwarded to the Newsletter office. (For information about the availability of this report, contact Jim Berberich, Chief, Bureau of Archives and Records Management, Florida Department of State, R. A. Gray Building, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250, 904/487-2073.) The report cites the May 1988 survey of mill prices by the National Library of Medicine, which, showed prices for printing paper to be the same regardless of pH. It points out that alkaline paper is more attractive to papermakers because it is cheaper to make, and goes on to say:

"Unfortunately, this trend does not always 'trickle down' to the local level in the market place. In paper prices through the local vendors, this committee found a discrepancy in the pricing of acidic versus alkaline paper.

"Some local suppliers were quoting prices, again, double for alkaline paper as opposed to acidic paper. On the other hand, some local suppliers were quoting comparable prices for each.

"It is difficult to project the cause for such disparity. It may be the lack of familiarity with alkaline paper and its standards. Often we would talk with vendors who had very little idea of what we were asking for with regard to alkaline paper. It may be also that vendors still feel they can market alkaline paper as a specialty item."

In another instance, prices charged for alkaline copy paper for one state library were 6 1/2 times as high as the price previously paid. A brief investigation revealed that somehow the library had been upgraded to an expensive paper for printers, but it is not clear where the decision to upgrade uses made, inside the library or at the distributor, or both.

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