Speculating on Print's Long-Term Future

The key to print's future, in my opinion, is the functionality of print.

Lots of people have speculated on the death of print, and in some places, it is clearly dying. But Doc's a big fan of the printed page and knows that in certain market segments there will likely be room for print for some time to come.

So I was intrigued to see an interesting article by Dr. Ronnie H. Davis, the Vice President and Chief Economist at the Printing Industries of America.  In it, Dr. Davis speculates on print's longer term future:

The key to print's future, in my opinion, is the functionality of print. As pointed out in previous Flash reports and my recent book, Competing for Print's Thriving Future, although many print products and services provide multiple functions we can sort data on shipments and plants by three major intended functions:

  • Print intended to inform or communicate factual and editorial information such a magazines, newspapers, books and reports.

  • Print providing product logistics to manufactured products-packaging, labels, wrappers, and product user manuals.

  • Print intended to market, promote, or sell various products, services, political candidates, positions, or ideas-marketing and promotional print such as catalogs, direct mail, and brochures.

Of the three functions, only one-print logistics-is not subject to competition and substitution by digital media. Conversely, print's inform or communicate function is subject to the highest risk of substitution from digital media. Print as a marketing, promotion and sales media appears to be in the middle.

It's a long article with lots of interesting charts and graphs about print-industry data and print shipments. For you skeptics about print, it's well worth a read. And if you're in the commercial printing industry, you should definitely take a look as there is good data on where growth is likely to occur.