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Print vs Digital


Reading an e-book

Some prefer printed books & Some prefer digital books

When the Digital Revolution really got underway in the mid to late 1990’s the printing industry publications, the general magazines, and general press were full of news of how digital would supplant print. Ultimately “putting ink (and toner) on paper” would, with absolute certainty, be a thing of the past.

Having recently invested heavily in new printing presses, not to mention the digital book printing line we were about to install, we were quaking in our boots. Had we just committed the biggest blunder of our collective careers? Would we shortly be facing bankruptcy? These were just some of the questions we asked.

We went out and pounded the pavements. We came up with new and innovative product offerings. We brought in a stream of new customers. Our printing presses kept rolling.

Yes we lost some commercial printing customers, who started doing their own design work and then printed the result on their new laser printers. One by one they eventually trickled back. Whereas it was convenient and initially looked good on their balance sheet to do things in-house, they soon realized there was a huge quality difference.

Their own customers had in turn not liked the material they were given. Our customers also slowly came to the realization that the “cost per click” of their laser printer had started to affect the corporate bottom line. Initially they had saved money from their marketing budget. The in-house printing had been paid by the corporate consumables budget. But the bean counters eventually caught on and we got back to work.

The same went for those of our customers, who switched to sending out e-brochures. They asserted that their customers would love the new paperless format. Anyone could view a web page or a pdf file, so who needed print. Again, the demand came back from customers down the line; the consumers of whatever our customer was manufacturing. They wanted something in their hand.

In some instances we subsequently printed sell sheets, instead of costly catalogues. In other cases we designed and printed brochures covering a specific product range.

As to printed books?...

At about the same time, as a digression from our core business, we launched an eco-store, where we sold all manner of ecological and green products. It included an extensive book section. At that time printed books were considered anything but “green”. They were made from trees and the printing process was not deemed ecologically sensitive. Printed books were viewed as a thing of the past.

I wrote the introduction to the book section of the catalogue and website. In it I mused about this apparent contradiction. We were an eco-store, and yet we were stocking and selling books. I pictured myself lying on a sofa in front of the fire with a laptop in the crook of my arm – instead of a printed book. I posited that I would much rather have an actual book.

The Kindle and Tablet PCs came out. They had been stuff of science fiction. Once again we feared for our future. Time went by and still we were printing books.

When it came to pass that I started writing books myself, we made the conscious decision to stick with print. We preferred printed books, and so, we surmised, must others. However, not wishing to lose any potential reader, we also published them in Kindle format.

Now research done by the acclaimed PEW Research Centre has indeed come out proving what we have thought all along: Print books continue to be more popular than e-books or audio books. To this day, about ¾ of people prefer printed books, and digital appears to have flattened out.

 

http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2016/08/PI_2016.09.01_Book-Reading_0-01.png

The PEW Book Reading 2016 Survey goes on to point out some additional interesting information:

74% of Americans read books
of those:
53% read only printed books
39% read both print and digital

and
8% read only digital books

For more on the comparison of print and digital, please click here

 


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