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6 February 2024

Print Is Dead Long Live Print

The eXcellence Group have been publishing print magazines, quality books for luxury brands and online platforms for over 8 eight years and the question of print paper versus other mediums comes up frequently. See here for our online luxury magazine, and here for our luxury gift shop.
So here is an honest overview of the present and future of paper printing.
Print is fine and doing better than ever but print meaning paper is on the way out, it’s not if but when. In the short to medium term it will survive in one form and another, books will outlast magazines as they have a more permanent nature and depth that makes them ultimately more collectible.
Print remains the mark of quality and luxury for the greatest brands to highlight their values and showcase their luxury products aimed at an audience that has the disposable income to buy the best. But this will not last.
Newspaper and magazines which are frequent and ephemeral, dealing with topics of the moment, are by their nature replaceable by online, tablets and flexible screens (coming soon). In the long term the additional cost of paper and physical printing not to mention the demands and delays of the printing process will signal the complete end of their print presence.
This is not to be lamented, online and new delivery technologies will bring fresh artistic opportunities. Much like the highly trained scribes who lost out to the faster printing press, creative artistic ways of developing new mediums will arise. We are simply swapping the medium: content, quality of delivery and the message will be the important factors.
Print is being usurped because it is slower, more expensive and simply old technology. The most obvious comparison is the scribes who laboriously copied out each book, which took years of training and around two years to produce one tome. When Gutenberg invented the printing press the scribes came out to protest the loss of work and the use of this appalling new technology. They even produced a series of pamphlets to raise support for their plight. The irony is that they printed these on the new printing press, because it was cheaper and faster!
New mediums of communication take time to bed in and be accepted, and this is the time it will take print to disappear. Certainly anything that is time sensitive will no longer be printed. Those that love the physical aspects of print will learn to cherish the screen and new technology will improve our dimensional contact with new mediums  if that is what we really desire.
The ease of consumer driven content, consumer participation and social networking, that fulfils a deep seated need to belong, means that virtual mediums will grow and develop very rapidly. It is a sobering thought to realise that Facebook has only been around for 10 years, Twitter even less. The speed with which they have taken over is new, most new technologies have taken generations to be assimilated. In fact the only reason the latest wave of technology is not taking over faster is that we are slow to absorb and grasp all its uses.
It is interesting that for the first time in history, technology is moving faster than we can keep up. Many areas of developing technologies are now so complex that no one person can keep up, but a community of professionals each with their own area of expertise is needed to continue producing the advances that further our knowledge.
The channels used to carry information to an audience and back will continue to evolve and be evaluated for their real communicative benefit. Like the wild west that started as a free for all to land grab and became owned by the few, the internet is becoming more money driven and controlled as time goes by.
Magazines and newspapers will survive by adopting new channels and communication platforms. The challenge in the short term is to monetise these, though more companies are now finding ways to do this, it is the first to do so who will take all. Titles whose business is based on one or two revenue streams will go out of business, unless they expand their platforms. Publishers are all looking for multiple revenue streams and the margins will be much smaller as more companies compete in multiple arenas.
In an opposite direction new technologies demand such expertise that many companies ill become specialists in very small fields that demand large investments in terms of knowledge and skills. So many companies will diversify and call on others for their specialist knowledge.
In the end it all comes down to audience and the level of your contact with them.The vital long term factors will be trust and performance, with communication that feeds both ways so real interaction is possible. The future about complete consumer control and demand, with self generating content and evaluation. Each of us will become publishers, producers, designer, makers, and consumers. Technology is merely the tool which enables and automates this process.
More people than ever are now joining to the creative process as new mediums make it easier for all to contribute, this is a fantastic process and the more access the world has to publish, create, be heard and share knowledge, the more we will all benefit. The advent of new platforms has seen the world explode with greater knowledge and learning.
I have a collection of over 10,000 books and there is nothing quite like a stunning library in a house, but the sheer aesthetic beauty of books has to be balanced against the convenience of holding a 10,000 book library in one tablet. The benefit that the internet and virtual platforms have brought to the world in the sharing of knowledge is breathtaking. To pose a question in your head and be able to look it up instantly is one of the greatest leaps in evolution ever. A milestone in human development.
Print is dead, long live print.