Stop press! Is print really losing to digital content?

by Stratton Craig

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Print is dead! Wait, print is dead?

We’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately, as more and more publications decide to move online and release new content digitally. Readership and circulation of physical copies are both down across different genres, and editors increasingly feel that taking their articles out of print is the best course of action.

Mid-October saw Newsweek announce the end of their printed monthly and a switch to digital content. A number of people on social media have claimed that when any publication – be it a newspaper, periodical or magazine – decides to only post stories on their website, it becomes a run-of-the-mill news blog and nothing more. It’s not a fair assumption to make, as there are plenty of blogs that enjoy success in a digital format, and the established reputation of a name in print helps it to thrive online. Readers can also make real-time comments on the news that affects them on a website, something that they can’t do with their morning newspaper, although wise site owners will put each post through moderation first to avoid spam and abuse.

Outside of niche monthlies and the daily news, other types of print media are making the transition into digital formats. Thanks to the tablet boom and the rise of the e-reader, more information can be easily read on the move – a pocket device is much easier to hold and carry than a bulky catalogue or an epic novel.

Despite all of the above changes, and even as print is proclaimed to be an obsolete format, it’s still attempting a comeback. Bookshop chain Waterstones has ramped up their advertising with an aggressive new campaign this year, emphasising the appeal of books – solid, real books with pages and a cover and that delicious ‘new book’ smell – over downloadable text files and battery-powered readers. The campaign is witty and clever, making excellent use of puns to drive the point home, and the power of having something physical and lasting is plain to see.

So… is print really dead? We wouldn’t bet on it.

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