Why print?

A blog on print?  Really?  Wasn’t there a memo…something about online killing print?

Yup, heard all that before.  But the truth is print retains a lot vitality, despite the rumors of its impending demise.  I hope to share some of that story in this blog, along with my own thoughts on how print ought to evolve so that the rumors remain just that.

Entry #1 on the “why print” ledger comes from what should be ground zero for the death of print – the college campus.  “Ground zero” because college campuses have all the ingredients that are allegedly connected to print’s death at the hands of the internet:

  • Young people
  • Free WiFI
  • Ubiquitous laptops and smart phones

So, what do you get when you mix those nasty ingredients and stir?  Well, Alloy Marketing+Media did some research on 550 campuses to find out – their results may surprise you.

If the link is too much reading here’s my handy graph of the key findings:

That’s right, the printed edition gets more traction in a single day than the online edition gets in a month! (30% read print daily, 20% read online monthly)

Both are free and have identical content.  The online edition is probably more available given that students have their laptops and smartphones with them at all times.

Hmmm…so much for the perfect storm, right?

Now don’t get me wrong.  Newspapers have a huge problem.   In fact, they have two.  The first is declining ad sales.  Left unresolved this will lead to dramatically lower profits (and under-staffed newsrooms and other follow on effects).  The second and larger problem is declining circulation, especially among younger readers.  Left unresolved this will lead not to lower profits but rather to oblivion for the industry.

My concern is that the industry is misdiagnosing the first problem and largely ignoring the second (or at least not treating it as the burning platform that it really is).

The problem, however, is not print, as the campus newspaper illustrates.  In fact, in a future post I’ll elaborate how – in the parlance of web developers – print is actually a feature, not a bug, of the current model.

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3 Responses to Why print?

  1. Chris says:

    Good stuff. I think people still like to sip coffee while reading the paper–that experience is totally different than the experience of reading something off of a screen. I do and like both, and wouldn’t completely give up one for the other.

  2. Pingback: More answers to “Why Print?” | Evolving Print

  3. Pingback: Evolving Print

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