There are two components to a publication: labor and raw materials. Pakistani publishers and printers mostly import raw materials, such as art paper, binding glue, and ink, from China and Indonesia. The publication industry is in grave danger of collapsing due to the rise in the prices of these components. Despite a worldwide decline in their prices, the local prices for these components have been rising for Pakistani importers due to the sharp fall of the rupee versus the dollar.
Paper prices increased globally in 2020 due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. From mid-2021 on, however, the prices started declining. A prominent Pakistani publisher that imported its paper was quoted a price of $1100 per metric ton about six months ago. The publisher recently imported the same paper for $800 per metric ton.
The prices, however, have increased in the local market due to the rupee depreciation. The price of art paper (100-110 grams) used in books and magazines has increased from Rs. 300 per kg in January 2022 to Rs. 600 per kg in January 2023. The price of binding gum has also increased, from Rs 12,000 per 20-kg bag in January 2022 to Rs 28,000 per 20-kg bag in January 2023.
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Furthermore, the price of a four-color ink set used for color printing has risen from Rs 7,000 per kg in January 2022 to Rs 20,000 per kilogram in January 2022. In parallel, Pakistan’s labor market costs have been rising, making it more difficult for publications to gain a slight financial edge. Additionally, the pulp is imported even when the paper is made locally. Due to freight costs and currency volatility, pulp prices have also increased.
The price of school books has also been affected equally by the rising cost of raw materials and labor, but magazine publishers have been hit harder because, in contrast to the market for textbooks, that of magazines is much more elastic, allowing for price fluctuations to correspond to changes in demand.
In addition, any magazine’s cost is significantly covered by its commercial advertisements. And as the value of the rupee has declined to the dollar, there has been a subsequent increase in the cost of labor and raw materials; the sponsors have not increased their budgets in rupees but have instead cut their marketing budgets due to the poor economic conditions in the country. The demand for magazines has dramatically decreased due to price increases. If the crisis persists, it will be impossible to manufacture publications, jeopardizing publishers’ futures and jobs.
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