The Paperless Chase

How to cut back on the high cost of printing
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the September 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Every company is looking to trim paper consumption and waste, and being green is only part of the reason: As much as 3 percent of corporate revenues are spent on costs, according to research by Gartner Inc., largely because of the high price of toner and ink.

Taking the Print Out of Print

What would Joey Johnson, owner of -based Graphic Mechanic, do with an extra $5,000?

Read up on the stimulus package at the official website. Figure out where and what type of projects you should pursue.

Since taking her graphic design business full time in 2006, Joey Johnson has put together websites, catalogs and advertisements for dozens of clients. But her focus now is to become a leader in paperless .

Her "ePubby" service can produce electronic brochures and catalogs that are designed and read like print products. "Large entities can save time and money and drastically reduce their carbon footprints by printing fewer high-profile documents like annual reports, newsletters and product catalogs, and publishing them online," she says. Her big challenge? Convincing skeptical clients that electronic publishing is the way to go at conferences and workshops she calls Green Initiatives for Trade. -Jason Daley

No wonder about half of the small businesses in the United States have already taken steps to reduce the use of office supplies and printing, recent market research by AMI-Partners has found, and many plan to prolong the life of basic hardware such as PCs and printers as the recession wears on.

So in the pursuit of conserving resources of all stripes, here are a few things to keep in mind before hitting the print button:

Don't do it, unless it's absolutely necessary. Yes, it's obvious, but we still make far more printouts than we need. Studies show that most are used only once before they are thrown away.

Make sure critical content is easily accessible to employees--stored on a centralized server that simplifies online sharing and electronic document review. The more you facilitate electronic collaboration, the less likely employees are to reflexively hit print.

If you are investing in new printers, explore alternatives to the standard toner-cartridge models. For example, recently introduced office copiers that use hunks of ink that remain solid at room temperature and melt when heated. The ColorQube copiers start at $21,300--pricey but in the same range as a conventional office printer--and Xerox claims they can slash the cost of color documents from 8 cents to about 3 cents per page.


Amazon's wireless reading device is either the most revolutionary thing to happen to printed matter since Gutenberg, or a handheld cultural apocalypse. Two avid readers and successful entrepreneurs close the book on the subject. --Dan O'Shea

Can't Live with It
"Paper clearly remains the delivery medium of choice, both in terms of resolution and comprehension, for the time-addled entrepreneur. The semiotics of print have been developed over literally hundreds of thousands of years-how the type is set, what is bolded and what is not, how page breaks and chapters work, all that stuff. These critical clues from editors and printers are lost in digital editions. So particularly if you are reading for information, which is what business owners do, digital displays--particularly the Kindle--can be a real pain. For day-to-day information consumption, paper is the way. The Kindle is a critical step in the evolution of displays, but the fact is, I have never had more print subscriptions--and I will get more. Ink on paper really is one of my secret information weapons."
--Jonathan Blum, Principal, Blumsday, a creator of audio, print and video content

Can't Live Without It
"When the Kindle first came out, I didn't like the idea of having to charge a book's . Now, I love it. I'm a big traveler, and my Kindle is all I need. Now I try to buy all my books for the Kindle. The battery in the second-generation Kindle lasts much longer than in the first, and the battery charger can just be plugged into my laptop. You can turn the wireless connection off, and the battery lasts even longer. The selection of books Amazon has on the Kindle is constantly improving. Plus, it's a status symbol. All the super-travelers have them. People are always stopping me and asking about it.
--Laura Borgstede, CEO, Calysto Communications, a marketing firm for technology companies.


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