Mark, for the most part you are correct. However, in the given situation, these paper makers are attempting to achieve an imitation of a particular quality that has been a standard for quite some time. They market these papers based on this so called "F" quality and the consumers, as a result of this marketing, hype...whatever one chooses to call it, have a specific, logical expectation.
People spend a good chunk of change on these new products only to discover that these surfaces aren't what they are advertised to be.
There are a miriad of experiences from photographer to photographer depending what their fav paper happened to be. I became a fan of graded Ilford Galerie...started as a youth on brovira, little bit o agfa portriga rapid in the gloss surface when it was called for, kodabromide and some of the other kodak offerings. Later, got into split contrast printing on a cold light head using several of the variable contrast papers available..whatever. Most of these surfaces were fairly subtle and very similar to each other in a general, family kind of way. Most folks liked that air dried, gelatinous gloss. It came to be the standard, or, a standard because it was appropriate and relevant. It just looked great and understated.
You didn't see a lot of black and white work being shown on matte, stipple, pearl, or whatever other names manufacturers of traditional chemical papers were using to describe their surface variations. Sure, the exception was there but, by and large, the air dried gloss was much more accepted as the rule.
I am generally excited about the actual image quality (tone, d-max. brightness, weight and etc.) on these new papers. The silver rag looks great when you can't pick up the texture, so does the Innova. I just dont like the texture and, apparently, a lot of other people feel the same way.
It is exactly what you are talking about...printmakers are sensitive to the surface...tooth can be nice and relevant. Sometimes, and particularily on papers that are glossy, tooth/to much texture is undesirable because it really has not much to do with what those particular users of the paper are trying to achieve. You might be able to tell, Im not a fan of textured gloss papers, not at all. Tooth seems to be much more important when printing on matte papers, it is a textural realm and can be very nice.
When I hear this argument, that digital is not the same, that inkjet printing is different than traditional forms and people need to get used to it...and...I hear that argument applied to this discussion about paper surfaces that are trying to imitate an old photographic favorite..it makes me wonder why folks are so quick to argue against imitative paper surfaces so quickly and stubbornly. This surface has very obvious merits and people like it for concrete and understandable reasons. For the record, I don't believe nostalgia has much to do with it. I feel that it has much more to do with the fact that it is an appropriate surface for many types of imaging, in particular, black and white printing. There are a whole lot of folks that feel that way about it. Sure there are some artists that have presented their work on stippled paper, pearly paper. Whatever the variation, the bulk of serious, exhibited photographers (traditional) chose that air dried, gloss surface. The manufacturers recognize this and are trying to provide this product because folks are making the most noise about this ideal.
I see no reason to argue against the attempt to try to make that surface available to digital printers. What exactly is the point? Shouldn't it be the more the merrier? There is a large block of photgraphers who want this. I say give it to 'em the way they want it..rock and roll. And, if a bunch of folks want velvet stipple on canvass with a touch of rocky road...bring it on.
Those with no tradtional darkroom or chemical photo experience are enjoying the first glimpses of this type of paper. I have to believe that if the products were studied and refined...they might realize what the hell these F surface paper zealots are bleeding about.