For the last few years many people have been proclaiming the death of print with the advent of tablets, e-books, online marketing, and social media. While traditional print in the form of newspapers has declined, and e-book newspaper and magazine subscriptions have risen, there are a lot of factors as to why print has not gone away, and likely won’t for some time.
It seems that while some general printing is down (physical newspapers are the biggest hit here), higher quality and more adaptive print seems to be doing just fine. A good comparison would be the music industry; general CD sales are down in favor of digital downloads however, artists are now offering free downloads of their music, and offering a higher quality product for sale. Artists are issuing vinyl (a once thought to be dead medium in itself) with add-ons such as limited edition run prints or artwork. The release of vinyl albums with specialized artwork accompanying it proves both music and the print industry is adapting to a changing market place.
Using that analogy, you can deduce that higher quality printing is gaining traction and replacing lower quality printing. Be it content, design, or format, people are still buying printed media, just better media.
Take for example the rising popularity of QR codes with direct links to a promotional website, or a direct download of a v-card right from the back of a business card. Print has managed to align itself with the changing digital world.
With the rise of 3D printing it may be possible to print parts for your car that have broken or other house hold items. It may be a few years off before 3D printing is commonplace, but it is gaining a large following online and early adopters are doing some amazing things with the idea.
In other words, print is adapting and will not be going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. Now let’s look at the top 5 reasons in no particular order why print is not dying.
1. Print is dynamic
From a branding standpoint you can achieve a lot more with print than a website. Print does many things a website cannot do as websites and digital devices are bound by screen resolutions and dimensions. Although websites are a very important factor in a brand and for a companies appearance online, print can add that little something extra to your identity. Consider a few things such as: Spot UV on a presentation folder to highlight that item to make it stand out; the shape, texture and feel of a business card; the promotion calendar that is well designed, functional and a constant reminder to you clients of who you are and what you do; the hospitality industry using custom made coasters, menus, and brochures; or new packaging ideas to stand out to consumers. The list is large while a website and a digital presence can only do so much.
2. Print is social
Print media offers you a chance to be social and interact with your clients or potential clients in the way digital advertising cannot. If you have a booth at a trade show, or a shop in a mall, you can hand your potential client a brochure or postcard and actually talk with them. You get to introduce yourself and put a face to the company thereby leaving them with something an online ad cannot, a lasting impression of who you are.
3. Print is evolving
From QR codes linking print with the digital world, to 3D printers being able to help you along your daily life by being able to physically print replacement parts for devices, toys for children, or tools for in the garden; the future print is evolving. Check out this video of a TEDx talk showing how engineers are making printers that can manufacture houses in 20 hours, yes, hours. This clearly defines how quickly the print industry is changing and diversifying itself to remain competitive.
4. Print allows you to unplug
A lot of people lead busy lives, managing many things at once, and are constantly connected to a computer, smartphone, tablet or telephone. Printed media allows the user to unplug, turn off the phone, get away from the computer, ignore emails and relax. Whether a book, magazine, product guide, or report, none of those things requires electricity, and none of them email you or make noises at you. Despite the digital world, everyone still likes peace and quiet.
5. The numbers
The annual number of subscriptions to physical magazines is 300 million, ad recall in magazines is up 13% over the past 4 years and readership has actually grown over the past 5 years. Marketers have still not spent more money with online advertising over print advertising even in 2012. The majority of ads people see are physical and printed, from billboards, to bus benches, to posters, to flyers. The majority of all advertising is still print media. Not to say the digital world isn’t making large gains, but it’s going to take a lot more to get rid of print any time soon.