If you Google “digital publishing” right now, you will undoubtedly find hundreds, if not thousands of blogs detailing how print is dead, and how digital publishing has been the main catalyst of its downfall. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.

Before every Tom Dick and Harry had tablets and smartphones, books, newspapers, magazines and journals were printed because that was the only option available. Not that anyone minded or even noticed; publishing has always been tied to paper in that way. Now with the digital publishing world in a state of constant flux, publishers have a choice between digital or print. This means that whenever a hard copy book is made, it is now done with a greater consideration of the end product – someone has had a choice, not just defaulted to print.

So how does this affect print?

Surely, it must affect the quality. If the best way to mass distribute content right now is digitally, print doesn’t need to be quickly and cheaply mass produced. People can invest in and experiment with papers, covers and fonts.

digital publishing | on such a full sea 3d printed book cover by chang-rae lee

Chang-Rae Lee’s novel On Such a Full Sea, the worlds first 3D printed book cover created by Riverhead.

In the past we’ve seen objects such as vinyl take the same path that print is heading down; in its prime vinyl would have been in every shop corner, but now has more value per unit financially and socially due to its rarity and physical nature. The vinyl revival is mainly fuelled by modern rebellion which sees people embracing vintage over tech, and now books and print in general are starting to hold a new place in society much like vinyl does.

Jim Bilton’s (Wessenden Marketing) recent report ‘Publishing Futures’ for the PPA highlighted this idea:

“With regard to print as a platform, for consumer publishers in particular, there are concerns over the ongoing decline in retail sales, and print is losing share more rapidly than in the past. It is, however, far from being in terminal decline in most markets, and there also seems to be a growing recognition that the value of print goes beyond pure revenue – print can add presence and substance to a brand’s digital offering.”

So despite what you read, digital publishing didn’t kill print. It has however been a key player in its evolution.

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