Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is Print Dying

Well I would hope not.
Many argue that print is dying, albeit slowly.

Print has been around for centuries, but finally the digital media is really starting to encroach upon print’s markets, with e-book and e-readers, online magazines, digital mailing lists and banner ads. In the digital age when new technologies are constantly being born, is print really being phased out?

Certain markets are still doing well in print. Most Americans read printed magazines and have a subscription to at least one. Even Google still sets aside a portion of their marketing budget for print pieces. Does Direct Mail Work? Ask Google

Personally, I feel a certain nostalgia for the tactile experience of reading a book or magazine, turning the pages and smelling that dusty papery aroma. The romantic in me loves the charm of a hand written note or a clever business card. I am more likely to remember someone who hands you a sturdy, textured mini-card that I can keep in my wallet, than a white e-mail I got on my smart phone. When I get my copy of Print or How (the graphic design magazines I have a subscription to), I get to unwrap it from its cellophane prison like a present and slowly turn through the pages to gobble up the colors and texture of the glossy paper (or matte paper, depending on the issue). I’m not in the minority. The Steve Laube Agency and Stephanie talk about the consumption of physical reading materials today.

The type of paper used can send a message or tell a story all its own, independent of what is printed on it. Computers can’t do that - it’s all the same media. A thicker cotton paper can convey class and quality, clean white can tell of professionalism and efficiency, while layers or cutouts can lend intrigue to a printed piece. Those qualities work with everything from stationery to direct mailings but digital mediums miss out on that third dimension.

People trust print more now than online materials. There is a paper trail that had to go through more than one person’s hands. There may be a digital trail, but it takes some time and expertise to find out if an online source is as reliable. 

It is also easier to receive loads of junk e-mails or spam through the internet. Junk mail takes up a little space in your mail box and then trash can. On the other hand, opening a spam e-mail could trash your whole computer or steal your identity.

Used wisely, print can not only aid and enhance digital media, but thrive on its own. Physical mailings or business cards left lying around can be stumbled upon more readily than and e-mail burred in an inbox. Smart paper choices, ad placement in relevant magazines and eye catching design can be a powerful ally when paired with the tangible memory of holding something in your hand. It can be incredible effective paired with the digital media as well as Mindy Trammell says on the I am Jam blog.

So is print dying? I couldn’t say for sure if it will. I hope it won’t, and for now at least it is still here and relevant.

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