Part of my self-imposed job in printing is to stay on top of various web articles and blog posts that detail aspects of print, be it tips or hints to prepping a file correctly, or the history of print, or some aspect of how print can still have an impact on the branded message. Lately I’ve been seeing posts and articles on why print is NOT dead. I have been “preaching” this gospel for months now, sharing anything that I find with followers on social media, as a means to compel them to spend their marketing dollars on print or lately, direct mail.
BUT WHY IS IT THAT PRINT IS NOT DEAD?
I read 1-2 articles a week, written from the standpoint of trying to convince the reader with statistics that say consumers react better to direct mail, or that such-and-so publication is going back to print. And according to the Direct Marketers Association, print – particularly direct mail – is having a growth and is proving to be a very strong and powerful media source of presenting a business’ brand message.
But in truth, I think there is more to it than that. And I rarely see blogs or articles that go into a more emotional reason for print and it’s continued growth – slow growth – but growth nonetheless.
I DO see it as a growing emotional need for print. For the tactile feel of paper, for the sense of permanence that paper can bring. If you are even moderately active on Twitter (I would put myself in that “moderate” category, with 99 followers and nearly 250 that I follow), you find that messages move quickly, and if you do not stay on top of it, they’re gone. Facebook at least gives you notifications, but even those are filtered. Google+ gives you some indication of missed posts, but you still have to hunt for them. Social media moves fast, and we are beginning to move fast with it. Paper creates a sense of slowing down. You can receive something in the mail, and it can sit for 2-3 days before you get to it, but it’s still there. And you can hold on to it, which allows you to review it repeatedly. Social media and web pages don’t do that. Unless you bookmark a web page, or copy it to your desktop, it can be lost unless you Google it.
Perhaps, too, is that as we become more inundated with electronic devices, from our smartphones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, smart TV’s, Netflix streaming of “House of Cards” – that we are now becoming a society that depends on these devices too much. Perhaps we are now responding to this inundation with a desire to return to the normalcy of the printed word or image. To illustrate my point, as digital photography has all but eliminated film photography, there is a resurgence in the art of large format and special process photography (ironically there are Facebook groups dedicated to these special disciplines). Artists use these old-style cameras that require 4×5″ film, special processing, and instead of PhotoShop, a darkroom with an enlarger, trays of developing and fixing solutions and water rinses – all to create something that, to them, is artistic. I applaud these artists and their work. But to me, it illustrates the growing desire by our society to not allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with electronic devices, and return to the creativity of our minds.
I think eventually we’ll find the balance between the ease of life that we’ve found through the mobile world of tablets and smartphones. But I think books, magazines, and marketing materials will find themselves growing again as the millennials, not wanting to be pigeonholed into a specific demographic, will begin to find ways to use print in new and creative ways.