Makers of bestsellers

22 April 2016

A powerful reading experience inspires, enlightens and entertains you. Most of the credit goes to the author, but high-quality paper that makes the book look and feel good also plays a role. Paper books retain strong reader appeal in markets such as Germany and Turkey.

We all know what it feels like to enter a book shop without any clear plan of what you are going to buy. It’s almost impossible to decide where to start browsing. The supply is overwhelming. Each year, thousands of publishing houses produce thousands of new books to meet the insatiable appetite of their readers. One of the most popular books last autumn was detective novel The Girl in the Spider’s Web by Swedish author David Lagercrantz.

The novel, which has been translated into dozens of languages, is a continuation of the mega-bestselling Millennium trilogy written by the late Stieg Larsson. Suspense stories by Swedish detective novel authors are examples of successful novels that will live on after the hardback issue as paperbacks, audio books, eBooks and movies. In Germany, the first paperback versions of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy were published soon after the hardback editions. When the detective novel by Lagercrantz was published in German in the summer of 2015, the publisher Heyne Verlag published second, snazzy paperback editions of Larsson’s original trilogy. The books were printed on UPM Book creamy paper.

Despite increasing digitalisation, readers still like printed books. For example, the world’s largest book fair, which takes place in Frankfurt every October, drew more than 275,000 visitors, an increase of 2.3% compared with 2014. Almost 10,000 journalists and bloggers reported news about authors and books to all corners of the world. There is plenty of news from Germany alone: more than 87,000 new titles were published in the country in 2014. That means millions of pages and countless numbers of book paper grades selected according to strict criteria. Despite the diversity, all authors, publishers and readers value the same basic properties: the colour tone of the paper, the touch and feel, and the contrast between the paper and the printed text, i.e. legibility.

Partner Salzer Papier

The paper grade that is used in the paperback editions of Stieg Larsson’s books is manufactured at the UPM Schongau mill in Germany. The paper is distributed across a wide area, including the Polish, French, Italian and Turkishmarkets. The book paper business started in Bavaria in 2012 when UPM Paper ENA launched its cooperation with Austrian family business Salzer Papier. UPMSales Manager Roland Mayer has been involved in the business for around a year.

“Salzer Papier was searching for a new supplier of wood-based printing papers. Little by little, we were able to find just the right paper grade for paperbacks in cooperation,” Mayer explains.

The cooperation has been very successful. UPM has already taken a fair share of the German book paper market. The total volume of country that is located both in Asia and in Europe. The number of books published increases year on year. In 2013, more than 42,600 titles were published in Turkey, and in 2014 the volume had already increased to more than 44,600. Ebooks have not been very popular as of yet.

“We Turks prefer traditional printed books, because you can flick through them and make notes in them,” Mert Ecer from UPM Paper sales in Turkey explains.

The future of the printed book seems promising: Turkey’s population of 78 million is young and continuously growing. At the same time, there are more and more people who know how to read and write. This favourable development has boosted sales of book paper. Of the paper grades offered by Ecer, Turkish publishers favour two grades: UPM Book creamy 2.0 and 1.8. Both of these are uncoated natural white papers.

Ecer has successfully promoted the sale of UPM Book creamy in the book paper market. The total sales volume in Turkey is 25,000 tonnes per year. His efforts have been noted, and he was selected as UPM’s Europe Paper Sales Business Hunter of the Year in spring 2015. The nomination came as a total surprise to him. A salesperson at heart, he was naturally pleased with the title, but he refuses to take all the credit for the success.

“It was the entire team at UPM’s Turkish sales office that did it. I’m very happy and proud to be part of the team,” Ecer says.

Success breeds success, and this is also true in the world of books. David Lagercrantz continued to narrate the lives of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander so credibly that his Swedish publisher has already announced that he will write at least two more sequels. It is not likely that the good news will end here, since hardbacks are always followed by paperback editions. It is also likely that the novels will be printed on paper manufactured at UPM Schongau.

Helen Moster

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