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xpedx paper fair 2010 results

2010 October 8

Last night, the xpedx Fall Paper Preview returned after a couple of years’ hiatus. I went, I saw, I brought back a bag of stuff!

Schwag bag from 2010 paper fair

About 12" x 10" x 5" worth of paper fair stuff

So, yes. The paper fair. Where to begin. Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” was possibly talking about this event, but only if he or she had a unique idea of “fun.”

Reaching the paper fair always seems to be an adventure, to some degree. The hosts want to lure in as much of both Cleveland and Akron as possible, I suppose, so they choose a kind of “neutral location” in between, the result being someplace rather out of the way for basically everyone. In the past it’s been a ski place reached via windy back roads deep in the Cuyahoga Valley forest.

This year the event was moved to Broadview Heights, which sounds more accessible, but the combination of urban sprawl and autumn, apparently, being the peak of road construction season in Ohio tended to neutralize any advantages in terms of convenience. These little two-lane ribbons which were perfectly adequate back when they passed through a sparsely-developed area, but get hopelessly backed-up at rush hour every day now that they’re lined with stores and office parks and subdivisions; I tell you… and if they’re also in the process of being resurfaced, heaven help you.

Plenty of people managed, though; the turnout was quite impressive. I didn’t really see anyone I knew, other than Janet and Seamus Shamus from xpedx (perhaps many people were at AIGA Cleveland’s simultaneous event; bit of unfortunate timing, there) but the place was thronged. Perhaps after a couple of years without, there was pent-up demand and everyone was determined not to miss this year.

For my part, I’ve got to say that all in all my visit to the paper fair was an unusually businesslike affair. Granted, I’m counting the miles driven toward business expenses, so that’s hardly unreasonable. But it really was a case of “I came, I saw, I brought home a bag of paper books.”

Swatch books from 2010 Fall Paper Preview

New swatch books

Which is quite a restrained and modest consumption of free things compared to past years. I know that at least once, I brought home two sacks, both larger than the modest bag pictured in the first photo above, filled almost solid with swatch books and promos. This year, I just couldn’t bring myself to be that greedy. I’ve already got a box full of swatch books, which I do consult on occasion and can probably stand to update after a few years since the last fair. But I wasn’t going to go hog-wild; I’ve hardly ever looked at those idea books from past fairs anyway, let alone the showpieces or (more than a little ironic) environmental-impact statement brochures.

Swatch books from Fall Paper Preview, stacked up

Pile it up and there isn't that much

So this year I exercised reason. I took a few extra items, some voluntarilly and others kind of pressed upon me by the more eager sales reps (it’s funny how some people were so engaging and others hardly seemed to notice I was standing in front of them).

"Other" items from Fall Paper Preview

Had to have those shades from French Paper, at least

Again, fairly restrained, I think. A couple of interesting items (other than the shades) from this pile:

Heaven 42 promotion

This was probably the most impressive promotion, comparing Scheufelen's ultra-neutral white coated paper with a more "run-of-the-mill" coated white

Folding guide poster

And there was this poster from Sappi; I may use this somewhere, actually

So, not bad. But not exactly “Halloween for the print graphics industry.” In fairness, they did lay on a very respectable spread; there were appetizers and even a a roast beef and, I think, a ham? One could have gotten a pretty satisfying dinner. Personally, though, I couldn’t help wondering where the cookies and miniature chocolate bars went. The bar options were a bit wanting, also, but they gave everyone two “drink tickets” as part of the entirely-free admission, so whaddya want, right?

Ultimately, if I could have addressed one deficiency at the event, it probably would have been in terms of paper variety rather than concessions, to be honest. Nearly all of what I brought back consists of white paper, coated or uncoated.

And to be frank, while it’s nice to have this stuff on hand, I don’t need that many swatch books of white paper options. Back in my days at old D.U. when I worked on a steady stream of medium- and large-run brochures, etc., I could (even if I didn’t exactly need to, even then) indulge in lengthy deliberations over which white paper to use, on a frequent basis.

These days, though, I don’t spec a whole lot of paper. Obviously I’m not speccing paper for interactive design projects, and even a fair amount of my print design work is for practical purposes entirely “digital” from my perspective, as many clients (in publishing, e.g.) manage production issues themselves.

When there is a relatively-unique opportunity, then, to spec paper, it’s as likely to call for a unique paper as for a white sheet. I had hoped that I might find one or two additional options for the stationery project I’m working on, for example, but had no luck. It looked like a couple of paper companies known for colored papers were at the show, but had either run out of swatch books or else packed up entirely by the time I arrived. Oh well.

I suppose next year I should give less consideration to arriving “fashionably late” and more to rush-hour traffic, instead.

5 Responses
  1. Shamus Dickinson permalink
    October 11, 2010

    Glad you enjoyed our Fall Paper Preview. Traffic and construction not withstanding we had a great turnout. You can always talk to Janet or myself for your paper inquiries and suggestions. Most everyone is keying on the environment and what an impact our industry can make. White paper is perfect! Colors, even better!
    Please let us know what we can do to help!
    Shamus Dickinson
    xpedx

  2. Matt permalink
    October 11, 2010

    Thank you, and everyone else who makes these fairs happen! xpedx is doing a great job as always; I needed some paper samples recently and received plenty of them, in just a day or so. I don’t get that kind of timeliness from everyone I deal with; it is very appreciated!

  3. October 12, 2010

    Matt,
    So glad you could make it this year. It was definitely unfortunate on the timing of the road maintenence. But, it seems to be happening everywhere you go. Please let me know if you need anything and glad to hear our level of service has not changed. Have a great day…

  4. Matt permalink
    October 12, 2010

    It seems like it to me, Janet; I normally think of summer as road construction season but this year I feel like they got off to a slow start for some reason, and are apparently trying to make up time. I have to keep reminding myself to avoid the main route out of Lakewood, too, the past few weeks since it’s closed for resurfacing as well. (And the street I live on even has both sidewalks torn up!)

    I will certainly be in touch whenever I need help on paper options!

  5. badmash permalink
    October 23, 2010

    I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?

Comments are closed.