…and looks set to rise in 2017 according to recent industry reports.

Over recent years, there has been a lot of press coverage about declining print newspaper and magazine sales and major newspapers switching to online only services, accompanied by cries of “print is dead” from the media and industry professionals.

It’s true that digital devices and services have disrupted many traditional media industries and the advent of online content, eBooks and digital versions of newspapers and magazines have heavily disrupted the print industry. There has also been an undeniable trend towards short form content for on-the-go content consumption, which has lead to further speculation about the future of long form printed materials. In the advertising space, the buzzphrase in the last few years has been ‘digital marketing’, with marketing budget focusing heavily on websites, social media, blogs and video content, rather than printed materials.

Someone reading on an eReader over breakfast. A print book is open on the table behind.

“The advent of online content, eBooks and digital versions of newspapers and magazines have heavily disrupted the print industry”

With this in mind, I was somewhat surprised and very happy to read in this month’s Print Monthly magazine that building on 2016 trends, 2017 looks set to see an increase in demand for printed leaflets, flyers and brochures. What’s more, print book sales are up whilst eReader sales have declined. Also in 2016, Christmas card sales volumes remained stable, whilst spend increased as people turned to quality printed images to express their sentiments.

Could it be that print is seeing a resurgence?

A recent UK-wide survey showed that 76% of children under eight preferred reading print books over digital versions. The tactile nature of print books and ease of reading them is also winning over teenagers, according to Dr Leonie Rutherford of Deakin School of Communication and Creative Arts. In his book, The Late Age of Print, Ted Striphas responds to claims that ‘print is dead’, arguing that printed works remain important and in demand in society.

In a world where we are overwhelmed by digital content, where our attention is constantly demanded by notifications, alerts, advertisements and updates on our social media feeds, receiving a physical printed letter or brochure is a rare pleasure and can really capture attention in an attention-poor world. Maybe that’s why according to Marketing Tech’s Christian Saeterhaug, “Targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%.”. Here at Clarity, we’re experimenting with some direct mail ourselves for our new referral scheme and our customers are really enjoying getting exciting, attractive printed materials through the post.

A boy sitting on a bench outside laughs whilst holding a print book

“76% of children under eight preferred reading print books over digital versions. The tactile nature of print books and ease of reading them is also winning over teenagers”

It also seems that people like the nostalgia and cultural associations of print. At last year’s #Rethink Media Conference, Birmingham University’s Paul Bradshaw and Think Jam’s Daniel Noy both explained that they owned many print books to set a good example to their children. Most of the panel agreed that they liked the cultural associations with owning print books and reading print publications. These preferences are reflected in recent trend reports.

As a result we could see a resurgence of print books similar to that seen in the music industry’s vinyl market, so fire up the printing presses for what looks to be a prosperous 2017 for the print industry.