Print isn’t Dead,
You Just Can’t Afford It
By: Keaton Ostendorf

No matter whom you talk to in design everyone wants to claim print is dead. Graphic design is so closely tied to trends within marketing and advertising that those industries usage of print or digital medias can largely dictate designer’s perception of a medium's value. Marketing and advertising is primarily focused on digital because they can reach a much broader audience through social media and search engine optimization (SEO). By collecting internet user’s data companies can direct advertisements to consumers who are more likely to be interested in their products or services. The astronomical cost of ink and print supplies have shown that digital marketing strategies can be much more economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly. Although digital mediums have their economic advantages over print, should the agenda of a corporation focused on a healthy bottom line decide whether or not print is dead? Let’s hold off on writing the eulogy and take a look into how close to death print really is.

The world of printing as a whole has progressed exponentially over its lifetime allowing to print to be more advanced and accessible than ever. A simple Google search will list results for just about any type of printing process or service you can think of. A wide range of processes including letterpress, foil stamping, screen-printing, offset, digital, laser; even printing with white ink has become more available. Of those processes digital and offset printing are most commonly used. For these, ink is the most expensive supply of the processes, ranging from $13-$75 an ounce ($1,664-$9,600 per gallon). (Reference 3) For an office it can cost as much as $.50 per sheet for a letter size graphic printed from a laser printer. If you’re someone who practices photography, digital arts, or graphic design this can become very costly when printing portfolios or prints, especially if you’re wanting something printed large scale. With the cost of printing so high it’s no wonder advertisers are focusing more on digital than print.

Print has taken on a new role in our lives. One that has to live in harmony with digital because neither are going to die off anytime soon. In a recent study conducted for the U.S. Post Office a study group found that digital grabbed the attention of customers for a longer span of time, but when it came to criteria such as: review time, engagement, valuation, and memory retrieval accuracy, print had better outcomes. (Reference 1) Even millennials are reported to value print over digital. (Reference 2) Handcrafted styles that have become more trendy in recent years are a great example of harmonious existence between print and digital. WYSIWYG services like Square Space or online stores like Etsy give independent printers and craft makers the ability to run a print based business by reaching a global audience.

With the wide accessibility to printing techniques of past and present, and the aesthetic value print has to offer people it is clear that print isn’t exactly dead. It’s just more expensive. Digital content has its benefits as does print, but to say one will render the other one dead is an extreme view. Print has seemingly settled into its place in a world where both print and digital exist.
Citations:
Neuro Sciece Study
http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/print-vs-digital.htm

(2) Kids still like print
http://www.ironmountain.com/Knowledge-Center/Reference-Library/View-by-Document-Type/General-Articles/T/Turning-Back-the-Pages-Why-Millennials-Prefer-Print-and-What-You-Need-to-Do-Next.aspx

(3) Cost of ink
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/08/the-high-cost-of-wasted-printer-ink/index.htm

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