is print dead?

Printed materials are far from dead.

In late July 2014, I wrote an article that was meant to serve as an appeal to those claiming that digital content had completely taken over, and that print is dead. Numbers had shown that Newsweek, who had been printing for 79 years went to digital only in 2012 because their subscription numbers dropped from 3,077,771 to 1,535,930. Obviously, that makes a lot of business sense. However, from what I was hearing, print was not only not dead, but in fact thriving. Here are four reasons I gave as to why this was happening:

1. Engaged Reading: Many studies have shown that those who read printed material are more engaged and retain the material much better versus online material. Therefore, even those growing up in the digital age, still prefer printed materials.

2. People Want Options: In today’s age of getting things however consumers want, this is a no-brainer. You must continue to offer readers options even when it comes to your material. Offering print or digital can really seclude certain segments of your market, and have your organization missing large opportunities in others.

3. Some Prefer Printed Materials: The truth is, some people simply prefer having materials in-hand when reading it (refer back to #2). Why do some people take their coffee black, while others prefer sugar cubes and creamer? Having a tangible form of content is a must to some of your target market.

4. Print Works Hand-in-Hand with Digital: It’s no secret that print and digital can work great together. They can promote each other and complement each other in a learning environment. With print, there is a sense of increased credibility, and with digital content, there’s the ease of access on any device we carry with us each day.

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These are all great examples of why print is absolutely not dead, and I’d still argue they are all true today. And as we move forward with this idea a year later, we’ve discovered even more evidence that our hypothesis was absolutely right. Here’s three more reasons why print isn’t dead:

  1. Print is Green: No, really? Yes, printing requires trees to be cut down, which of course negatively impacts the environment. In fact, the entire process does. However, its carbon footprint is a one-time contributor. Digital media requires energy every single time it is accessed. Research shows the Pulp, Paper and Printing industry uses around 1% of total global energy, whereas Internet Data Centres alone use about 4%. (Source: PrintCity Report)
  2. Print Stands Out: Believe it or not, print is now the outlier. Remember hearing “You’ve got mail!”? That’s because it was unique and wasn’t something that happened very often. Now we all get 1,000 emails a day so nothing truly catches our attention. That’s why a high-quality printed material can really stand out, because it is less common than it used to be. Print inherently forces readers to slow down and absorb the content, making it an effective channel to provide educational material.
  3. ebooks May Be on the Way Out: In the first five months of 2015, ebook sales fell by 10%, according to the Association of American Publishers. Simply put, the digital surge that includes eBooks has leveled off and publishers worldwide continue to increase their investment in print, including Penguin Random House which is investing nearly $100 million in their warehouses and distribution of printed books. (Source: NY Times)

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are now, a year later. Has your opinion changed since this time last year, or has it remained pretty much the same? Is there an opportunity for a fine balance, or do you go exclusively with one form or the other? I want to hear what’s working for you!