Before leaving the Why Print theme I want to toss out a couple of additional data points that suggest that the widely held wisdom that Print Is Dead is off the mark.
Consider The Economist, my favorite magazine. Though serving higher-income readers with above-average penetration rates of both smart phones (judging by how frequently the iPhone is advertised on the back cover) and broadband internet the magazine has managed to double its print circulation over the last six years. Here’s the chart:
Oh, and lest you conclude that The Economist has been boosting sales by catering to gray hairs among us, consider that the average age of its readers is 39 years old – younger than that of any other major news magazine (source).
One more interesting data point is worth mentioning. The Radio and Television News Director’s Foundation took the simple approach and just asked people whether they prefer to read in print or online (full report here). Intentionally or not they very usefully (for my purposes) asked the question in a manner that isolates the impact of the media – print vs. online – without clouding the issue by considering the differing content each offers. Here’s what they found:
This data suggests that the culprit behind the unambiguous shift from print newspaper reading to online reading (of principally non-newspaper sites) is not the paper on which the newspaper is printed but rather the content which it includes.
The idea that content is king (or culprit) explains why some print (The Economist and college newspapers) continue to thrive while others, despite the reader’s preference for print, do not.
But more on that in a later post.