Print is Alive!

By: Christine Yardley |

Welcome to Eat Print Love

First, let me welcome you to Eat Print Love. As a print-fanatic myself, I am absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to share my passion for the craft and industry that I live and breathe everyday.

Print is a uniquely personal form of media; unlike digital media, print allows you to experience design, writing, or photography in a physically intimate way. Despite naysayers who have heralded the “death of print” for the past few decades, print lives on in part because of the heightened level and form of engagement that it affords people.

Take books and magazines for example: electronic copies stimulate one sense – your sight. A printed physical copy of a book or magazine by contrast stimulates sight through the words you read; it stimulates your sense of touch through the feeling of a leather-bound book, or a glossy magazine in your hands; your sense of smell is stimulated through the old book smell we all associate with libraries, or the scent of fresh ink on paper; and your sense of taste…well, okay not that one I hope.

Hit by the Digital Hurricane

The digital revolution has brought many things: the introduction of the personal computer, the rapid adoption of the smartphone, and the development of e-books just to name a few. Despite our access today to more screens than we really know what to do with, people continue to long for the tangible experience of ink on paper.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. Numerous studies have found that people are better at retaining information from printed material than they are from digital material.

2015 neuroscience study examined the ability of readers to comprehend and recall printed and digital advertisements. The researchers found that printed material required 21% less cognitive effort to process and understand then digital material, and printed ads were more likely to leave a lasting impression on participants than digital. Where 75% of participants were able to recall the brand associated with the physical ad, only 44% of participants could recall the brand associated with the digital ad.

A 2016 survey of students from more than 420 universities around the world found that students overwhelmingly prefer printed material to digital when it comes to learning. 92% of students said they concentrated better with printed material, and 86% said the same with regards to in-class academic readings.

Considering how often we hear about the rise of digital and the death of print, these are surprising numbers. The fact of the matter is that print is still more effective than digital at conveying information and, what’s more people are aware of and prefer the physical material!

Print by the Numbers

In 1897 during a speaking tour stop in London, a rumor began circulating that the great American novelist Mark Twain had died after a bout of illness. Twain was asked about this by a reporter, and he famously remarked: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” I’m here today to tell you that the reports of the print industry’s death are just that – exaggerated.

Still don’t believe me? Well in 2018 the global printing industry was valued at $980 billion, with major growth in packaging and labels specifically. While the average volume of printed materials per person has declined, every year the amount of packaging material reaches a new record high – 235 million metric tons as of 2016. Every year digital printing takes on a larger and larger share of the market, doubling from 2008 (9.5%) to 2018 (19.7%) – when we exclude packaging, that number is even more stark with digital printing now making up 38.1% of the entire market in 2018.

Print is not only not dying, it’s experiencing a renaissance! Digital print technology has allowed for printing to become more personal, more adaptable, and more cost-effective for shorter-run jobs than it has ever been before. Print-on-demand and variable data printing have opened up entirely new segments of the market, and the industry is now poised for a period of spectacular growth.

Print is Alive!

One of my favourite quotes from the novel Eat, Pray, Love is: “I think I deserve something beautiful,” except my version would read: “I think we all deserve something beautiful.” Print and design are all around us; they add vibrancy, colour and beauty to our everyday lives. From the stunning photographs that adorn the covers of the magazines at our local corner store, to the beautifully-designed banners which line the walls of skyscrapers, we are surrounded by beauty everyday.

I hope that through Eat Print Love I can share the beauty of print with the world and inspire the printers and designers of tomorrow.

Eat, Print, Love.

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