The Digitalisation Of The Print Industry

Over the past decade, technology has had a significant impact on the print industry. This blog looks into the outcomes of this, and which aspects of print have been most affected.

One of the most notable shifts has been seen in the book printing industry, with e-reader devices such as Kindles and iPads enabling the consumer to keep all of their literature collection on one device, instead of having a library of physical books. The first Kindle was launched in 2007, and it sold out in five and a half hours, highlighting the demand for this kind of digital offering. Lots of different – originally purely print – outlets have also adapted to digital methods, for example the availability of e-tickets, increasing levels of e-mails, paperless billing, online catalogues – the list goes on.

The news industry is one that’s been hit hard by the digitalisation of traditional print, with regional newspaper readerships showing large levels of decline in favour of accessing news via online methods. This is a trend that is expected to continue with the launch of updates such as Apple News making the headlines readily available.

One of the core digital advances seen in 2D print is colour, the popularity of digital colour printing rising rapidly. In 2009, 203.6 billion pages were printed using this method, rising to 459.5 billion pages in 2014 (data from Xerox). Digital printing tends to reduce cost due to the flexibility of short print runs, the printed images can be altered, so one print run can contain numerous different images. This has enabled the development of targeted print materials, proving useful in the print marketing and advertising sector as campaign collateral can be tailored and personalised accordingly.

The growth in popularity of digital consumer products correlates with the vast increase in the use of mobile devices, the rapid development of this technology encouraging consumers to continue buying into the newest models. As a result of this trend, and aware that many school pupils see their mobile phones as central to their lives, we designed our brand new app. PenstripeEdu is a life planning tool, where students can schedule school, homework and social tasks in one place. Technology is advancing rapidly, ownership of mobile phones being commonplace for most students. Teaching pupils about effective time planning and task management, PenstripeEdu offers a digital method of organisation.

Digital has inevitably impacted the print industry. This isn’t just from a product perspective, but everything from the machinery we use, to how we communicate. Although digital is very much an area of extreme growth, we’re not living in a ‘paperless universe’ quite yet. There is still significant demand for physical print, for example our school planners and diaries! Letters are still being sent, magazines are still being read, and when you go to a restaurant, you’re not usually given an iPad to read your menu from. Print is still very much a part of everyday life, and will continue to be.

The advance of digital has affected print, both in terms of traditional print products moving to a digital offering, and in the ways that digital, is in fact, enhancing the traditional print industry. It’s important to harness the growth of digital and the rewards that it brings, at the same time, not losing sight of the importance of physical print products. Our printed planners are a staple of the everyday functioning of our Penstripe schools, keeping both pupils and teachers organised. However, we’ve adopted digital with PenstripeEdu, the app launching in January at the 2016 Bett Show. Printers shouldn’t be intimidated by the growth of digital, but highlight the opportunities that come with it.

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