Since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, the world’s primary method of communication has been the printed message. While radio and television have definitely given print a run for its money in the last century, the digital revolution will undoubtedly be the nail in the coffin. Despite the richer experience to both consumers and marketers of consuming message on digital devices, the public refuses to let go of print as quickly as they have abandoned other inferior technologies. Some may argue that Amazon’s recent announcement that digital books are outselling hardcovers is the canary in the coal mine. But books are just one slice of the print pie. Here are 5 reasons print isn’t dead (yet) –
Price of devices/content
Despite the falling prices of ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle, ebook readers and digital content is still relatively pricey. When you consider the average American reads only four books a year, the break-even point for a $150 ebook reader would be roughly 30 books or 7 and a half years (figured at an average $5 savings per ebook compared to a hardcover.)
The iPad is making quite a splash in the ebook industry, but there is little evidence that it will be the “iPod” of books quite yet. A few publishers have submitted digital versions of their magazine in Apple’s App Store. Wired recently reported that sales of their first iPad edition were on pace to outsell its print version. This should have been a loud and clear call to action for the rest of the magazine industry to start developing digital editions of their magazines, but Apple is throwing a wrench in the traditional magazine revenue model. By demanding 30% of revenues, Apple is making it difficult for publishers to offer digital subscriptions that are competitive to their print counterparts.
As illustrated earlier this year by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, publishers are finding it difficult to remain relevant in today’s quickly-evolving economy. Self publishing options have never been more plentiful or as easy as they are today. Other than hooking an author up with an editor and spending some cash on marketing and distribution, publishing houses are challenged to provide value to authors. Auletta reports that publishers still give authors creative guidance and support. Is this guidance worth signing over the rights to your book? I’ll let you be the judge.
Many publishers are still struggling with how to monetize their content in the digital world. Disruptive apps such as Flipboard for the iPad are making it even tougher for content owners to turn a profit.
People embracing technology
I need not share any data on how people hate change. It’s been true for as long as humans have been innovating. Some technologies have been easier for the public to adopt than others, such as the evolution of the tape to the compact disc. There were clear benefits of making the switch – increased quality, durability and convenience. It seems people have been particularly resistant against moving from print to digital. Despite the clear benefits (especially the environmental ones), people aren’t letting print go. Print has definitely had a much longer life than other recorded media type. This life-long exposure to printed media may have people feeling nostalgic. Whatever the reason, the public has made it clear – they are not done with print.
Difficult to match the ubiquity of print
While digital signage and billboards have started to dot our urban landscapes, a printed postcard is the cheapest and most ubiquitous piece of collateral in a marketer’s arsenal. What other type of message can be distributed physically over an entire city, in thousands of instances for a penny or two per impression? Of course, there are other costs associated with postcards besides printing, such as design and distribution. The low cost coupled with little need for remarkable messaging has kept the postcard relevant.
Print still has a decent return
Despite impressive returns from PPC advertising and SEO campaigns, a well-crafted direct mail piece can produce a very healthy return on investment. Marketers would be foolish to eliminate all print expenses from their budget. Even internet giants like Google and Yahoo integrate print advertising into their marketing mix. U.S. postage costs continue to rise, but so does the level of innovations to direct mail pieces. Variable digital printing and custom shaped mail pieces continue to produce healthy returns.
Messages seem to have a lot more worth when they are in print. Messages can be published, edited, erased and syndicated all in the span of a few minutes on the web. In conjunction with the modern day web’s ease of publishing, people are becoming increasingly skeptical of what they read online. Web publishers and platforms have taken steps to boost the credibility of content published on the web. Twitter has verified accounts. Sites like AllTop and Techmeme curate the best of the braking news online. Wikipedia has a strong community of editors who vet newly updated entries. Although print has anything but a flawless reputation for printing the truth, people still seem to put more faith in messages they see in print than online.
Printed communications kill millions of trees ever year, are inherently difficult to share and customize, and produce returns that are notoriously hard to quantify. Albeit, marketers and publishers continue to employ print and won’t stop anytime soon. Best NetEnt Slots You Should Try Once