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Dear John:

Do publishers use different quality paper when publishing a book?
- Gregory

John replies:

The simple one is yes, they use different weights and grades of paper. However, the modern novel is typically printed on 60-70# acid-free or alkaline paper, buff or natural color. The weight or shade may vary from publisher to publisher, or even from book to book. For example, R.R. Donnelley stocks a 50-pound, 400 ppi (pages per inch) cream-white paper. Good quality, nice finish... relatively inexpensive because their book plants order in massive quantities (think truckloads per week).

Iron Horse by Robert B. ParkerSome books use a relatively heavy stock. If you've read a Robert B. Parker book you'll notice each page feels almost like cardboard. That's because his novels were typically short on word count; to make the book "feel" longer, a lower ppi paper was used. (this is called "streamlined poundage.") The lower the ppi the less pages per inch and the "bigger" the book feels.
The finishing varies also. Some books have clean trimmed edges, others have deckled edges.

Hope this helps.

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