From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

Gutenberg from:

As I watch my 80-year-old grandmother attempt to figure out how a wireless computer ‘mouse’ is relevant to the workings of a computer, I wonder if a complete shift to the digital landscape is truly plausible.  A while back, I researched how students in Milwaukee, Wisconsin choose to keep themselves updated on worldly news.  A shocking 80% of students claimed that the most informative outlet was the good ‘old’ newspaper.  According to a study completed by OnCampus Research, 74% of US college students still prefer to use a printed textbook while taking a class(, 2010). 

This is a highly significant in the current digital climate; with today’s MTV culture having an attention span of three seconds or less, this may prove that people still want credible, well told stories (instead of a Tweeted update).  The question is: will people choose information over visuals?   The four reasons listed below confirm PEOPLE STILL LIKE PRINT!

1)  Major paper-based publications have seen steady business

According to Vanity Fair Publications, people do choose quality content over iconic visuals.  “[Vanity Fair] print circulation (both newsstands and subscriptions) is emphatically up at a time when everyone tells us it is supposed to be down.”  Consumers may appreciate the tangible aspect of the information, or the fact that many articles written in print are less biased as those on the web (which, let’s face it, many exposed articles tend to be highly opinioned and sometimes fabricated).

In a 2006 study conducted by the Direct Marketing Assocition (DMA), the DMA found that when it came time to generate orders, 60% of orders came from printed catalogs, 24% by retail settings, and only 9% of orders were obtained using the internet. (, 2010).  This may be proof that tangibility can result in further brand recognition.  For instance, if you have gotten a magazine, chances are there may be a sale or coupon insert that you may hold onto.  Having something like this in your hand is easier than trying to remember to print out the coupon and travel to said store.

 2)  Digital gate-keepers are not always credible.  is an example of this – would you take a piece of information from Wikipedia and site this as expert advice in a research paper (when the article could very well have been written by a 12-year-old boy)?  Probably not.

 There might be a link between education and the computer, but does the digital revolution guarantee excellence in learning? According to Artbox Creative research (2010), “B-to-B magazines were viewed by prospects as trustworthy and objective, websites were seen as the place where they received timely information, and trade shows were viewed as the place for interactions and to improve their awareness of alternatives.” People do still find value in print.

 3)  There are digital disadvantages

The Kindle, for instance, is a fairly new product on the market and allows one to download books for free, from the public domain.  Printing Industry guru, Frank Romano, said, “It is a mistake to assume that electronic content will eventually replace books.”  Like Napster, Kindle faces several challenges – these works that are now able to be downloaded for free are sure to become protected instead of being openly shared.  In addition to protected resources, many universities such as Syracuse and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are discontinuing use due to complaints from organizations that advocate for the blind.

 As the costs of digitalization decreases, there becomes less of a ‘digital divide’ and more people have access to various learning platforms.  However, as many consumers are able to use social media outlets to expose relevant information. Mitchel Resnick of The Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology understands that there is a difference between having access to online forums and being fluent in online applications.  Resnick compares online fluency to language fluency: can you say a couple of words in German, or do you REALLY know the language?    

4)  Print + digital = lasting impressions

It is difficult to have a ‘stickiness effect’ with just online advertising.  With digital news being oversaturated, it is simple to dismiss advertisements and stories.  With print, there is a higher ROI since many magazines are distributed over and over.  For example, if you are in a doctor’s office and are waiting over 20 minutes for an appointment, you will most likely take a look at a magazine nearby.  That person might take the magazine home, and pass it on to their friend, and so on.  Sure, this person might be able to send a link to somebody, but not everybody opens every email with the high amount of spam.  Print is more personal, and not an attack on your inbox.  Print is lasting.


1 Comment

Filed under Digital Media, Digital Printing, New Technology, Vibrant Graphics

One response to “From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg « Printing on the Edge --

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