It seems that every couple of months the battle-cry proclaiming “Print is Dead!” resonates throughout the design industry. While communication has certainly undergone vast changes since the dawn of the Internet age, print is still alive and well (and will probably hang around for quite some time). Here's why.
Physicality Is a Thing
While many would argue that digital content is more engaging—Tweets! Animated GIFs! Cat videos!—when it comes to actually reading content, print is still king. Online users typically skim web pages in a matter of seconds, and when they do actually decide to read content online, they do so at a slower rate than with traditional printed media. The tactile experience of holding a physical object also shouldn’t be underestimated—that tangibility offers a deeper level of engagement than merely looking at a computer screen.
Print & Technology Aren’t Mortal Enemies
The assertion that print is dead or dying often assumes print and technology are mutually exclusive. Instead, print media often enriches digital experience, and vice versa. While both mediums most basically deliver content to their end users, they both serve different functions in society—and that’s ok. So, take Kim Kardashian’s upcoming coffee table book of social media selfies not as a sign of the End of Times, but instead as an (albeit unfortunate) example of the future of print and digital happily co-mingling.
Curation Leads to Credibility
While the immediacy of the 24-hour news cycle and the proliferation of tweets, comments, posts and pins certainly has its place in the digital realm, print media offers an important counterbalance with its careful curation. The process of writing, editing and producing printed content is inherently slower than its digital counterpart, and perhaps because of that lag in lead-time, there’s a sense of credibility in printed works that’s often lacking digitally. Need more proof? Scan through literally any comment board online and witness the downside of immediacy and accessibility (hello Internet trolls—goodbye faith in humanity).
So, fear not all you print-lovers out there: traditional media is going nowhere fast. Take comfort knowing there are few things in this digital age that last more than a couple years (Floppy discs, anyone?)—and print has roots that run centuries deep.