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The Final Word by Jim Thompson
Printing and writing paper shipment data are out for February, and they are grim. The best performer was uncoated freesheet (essentially copy paper), which was down only 19.9% year over year in the United States. As we have been saying for a long time now, communications papers of any kind are in trouble and will permanently decline in per capita volumes.

Next up as a competitor will be electronic readers -- paper thin and in normal office sizes. Expect them in less than 24 months — not as a curiosity but as a real, viable working tool. The unrealized consequences of these will be improved productivity, for people’s desks now stacked with papers they just have to have will be electronically filed on these readers and accessible by key words through Google desktop.

Next up for obsolescence? The office desk, for it is designed to hold papers of various kinds on top and inside, nearly obsolete functions already (my desk drawers hold hard copies of computer software and a collection of thank you note stationery).

Of course, of interest to us is what to do with obsolete paper machines. Most likely they will go to the scrap heap.
The challenge for us, individually and collectively, is to quickly identify and eliminate those with no business reason to survive. We have not been very good at this in the past — can we do it quickly and cleanly now?

On a related subject, please look at the Second Tuesday Survey just posted. Staffing plans for 2009 are surprising.

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