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Our supply is paper thin

A word of warning: The global supply-chain trouble is affecting the paper you hold in your hands


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Since the pandemic-related shutdowns began almost two years ago, I’ve used this space to warn of potential delays or cancellations of WORLD Magazine issues. I’m grateful those problems never materialized, but I’m not sorry I sounded the alarm. I’d rather any surprises be pleasant than not.

Here’s another warning about something I hope never happens: We may run out of paper to print the magazine.

Paper supplies are running low in the United States. The reasons are complex and include factors that were in play long before the pandemic showed up. Demand for paper, especially the kind used in magazines, has been trending downward for more than a decade. That prompted paper-producing factories to close or be converted to produce higher-demand paper goods.

With those conditions underlying the entire paper industry, add in the complications caused by the pandemic—labor shortages, plant shutdowns, a sudden spike in the demand for cardboard (think of the boxes needed for all those home deliveries), and trucking tensions in Canada, which is where most of America’s paper originates. These factors are harder to manage, especially in the short term.

So we’re left with a real supply problem.

At times like this especially, we’re thankful for a good relationship with our great paper supplier. They advised us early to prepare for the worst. That meant instead of saving money by warehousing only enough paper for an issue or two of WORLD and our student magazines, we needed to stock four months’ worth. Within that period, we expect to be able to find enough paper to keep printing the magazines.

I hope this is just another of my unnecessary warnings. We’ve had to work with inflated prices on paper (and almost everything else), but we’ve always been able to find it. That could change.

Please pray that it won’t. I’ll let you know either way, though I recommend making sure we have your email address. Just saying.

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