Digital vs. Print: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

Digital vs. Print: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

Summary: The publishing industry continues to shift to a digital model. Yes, print still accounts for the majority of revenue and volume, and there may be an increase in print-based volume and revenue as the economy recovers. However, I believe digital growth will continue to significantly outpace print and, in the increasingly foreseeable future, overtake print.

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TOPICS: Outsourcing
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Doc believes in all things digital, but he also believes in the power of print. So I keep my eye on market trends but greet those predicting the end of print with a healthy dose of skepticism. Print is still a dominant communication vehicle and will be for some time.

But I have to admit that Jeff Hayes over at InfoBlog got me thinking a bit with his latest installment.  Jeff does a roundup of news in a number of areas of publishing (books, magazines, and newspapers) and comes to the following conclusions:

The publishing industry continues to shift to a digital model. Yes, print still accounts for the majority of revenue and volume, and there may be an increase in print-based volume and revenue as the economy recovers. However, I believe digital growth will continue to significantly outpace print and, in the increasingly foreseeable future, overtake print.

Equipment vendors, paper manufacturers, and print service providers need to take a hard look at their business strategy and identify new opportunities for growth. Within the "cross media" publishing industry key areas will include workflow, integration, and managed services (hosting, search engine optimization, digital asset management, etc.). It might be a good time to use your cash flow to finance an acquisition or two.

Doc's not sure of the speed at which digital is taking over for print, or if we've reached a magic tipping point in that transition. But Jeff makes a number of good points and cites some interesting research. Well worth the read.

Topic: Outsourcing

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3 comments
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  • RE: Digital vs. Print: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

    Thanks Doc.

    I just returned from Graph Expo and believe we have reached a tipping point between offset printing and digital printing. The show was dominated by production digital printing equipment - HP, Xerox, Oce, Kodak, Ricoh, Canon, Konica Minolta, Fujifilm, Screen, and others were running all types of applications on ink and toner-based production printing systems. Only Presstek was actually running offset presses in their booth. No Heidelberg, Komori, or many of the other leading press vendors!

    My sense is that the new generation of production inkjet systems will take a significant share of offset pages over the next five years particularly in the publishing (books), promotional (direct mail, catalogs), transaction, and packaging markets.

    Things are going to pick up speed, not slow down!
    hamajeet
  • RE: Digital vs. Print: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

    They said editors and proofreaders would be a thing of the past, too.

    Right now, digital presents an opportunity for publishers to expand or enhance their offerings, not "replace" them.

    When iPads,etc., are ubiquitous, newspapers may hit the recycle bin for the last time, but print is needed for all sort of non-digital uses. Labels, flyers, business cards, wallpaper, posters ... there are many, many uses for printing besides books, newspapers and magazines.

    Digital printing may well replace offset, but I don't know if there is much ability yet for large runs or catalog (magazine) printing, except in the gimmicky "personalized" arena.
    Tadd Peake
  • RE: Digital vs. Print: Have We Reached a Tipping Point?

    Doc agrees with you to a point, Tadd. Most of the statistics out there show that the volume of print is not increasing, at least not at any startling rate. So it???s hard to imagine that digital printing is not taking the place of offset and other methods. But, of course, you are right ??? digital printing doesn't hit the big runs, yet, but Doc thinks it eventually will. And I don???t see the total volume of print getting a whole lot bigger.
    DocuMentor (Doc)