4 ways print is thriving in a digital age

print media is here to stay

June 5, 2015 · Share via Email LinkedIn

Print is Thriving in a Digital Age

It seems everywhere you look, people are writing obituaries for print publications. Today's media climate is reminiscent of when television was going to put an end to radio. The Internet may seem poised to conquer print, but that is far from happening. 

While circulation may be down for the majority of publications, AARP The Magazine bucks this trend and is the country’s largest circulation magazine with nearly 38 million readers. Furthermore, print product use and engagement across the spectrum remains strong and robust. Here are four things you didn't know about print and how it's staying alive:

1. Everyone Is Still Reading Print

The Sunday paper is still at it. In fact, according to the Scarborough Multi-Market (2014, R2) Study, 38.7 percent of adults 21 and over are keeping the tradition alive. That represents over 85 million adults reading a printed paper each week! While the Internet trumps print in terms of usage, but engagement is key – and print wins that battle.

A report released by Nielsen in 2013 found that newspaper media—print and online—scored the highest of all the surveyed media in terms of "overall engagement." For advertisers, the aggregate scores on metrics like "usually notice ads," "likely to purchase," and "best place for Black Friday shopping" delivered a full 12-point higher score than all other media.

2. Print Just Feels Better

While our world now consists of staring at screens and pounding on keyboards, paper is still thriving in the digital age. Two Sides, a non-profit which promotes the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper, reported that 70 percent of Americans stated that they preferred to read paper communications rather than a digital ones.

Moleskine CEO Arrigo Berni commented in an NPR story that people who are still using paper aren't clinging to a bygone era. Rather, they are just "people that have both digital and analog as a part of their lives." 

Writing and reading on paper forces the brain to process information more deeply, and digital has not yet found a way to usurp that aspect. 

3. It Has A Strong Fan Base  

Who reads print? Over half of the Boomer population—50.7 percent—reads the Sunday paper weekly. Additionally, only 12.7 percent report using a digital device to read the same paper online. But it isn't because they don't own digital devices. According to Fall 2014 MRI, 55.9 percent of Boomers own smartphones, 31.5 percent own tablets, and 57.4 percent own laptops.

Print has earned the population's trust over the years. An Experian Simmons National Consumer Study, which examined the sources Boomers rely on for health care information, revealed that magazines, at 45 percent, were second only to doctors. While the Internet is faster and easier to find information, Boomers find print more trustworthy.

Thanks to them, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin are the top printed publications in the United States. 

However, Boomers aren't luddites, nor are they alone in holding on to the print tradition. The New York Times reports that 23 percent of its subscribers are under the age of 50. That is how they still earn 70 percent of their revenue comes from their print product

4. Even Techies Want Paper

New York Times is in a unique position with its reputation and its ardent following. Other publications have not been so lucky. What will happen to them?

Back in 2013, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon purchased the venerable and troubled Washington Post. A long-time fan of the written word, Bezos wanted the chance to shape its uncertain future. He paid $250 million not to destroy print, but to "reinvent it." We have to look no further than the Kindle's evolution to see his efforts to keep the passion for paper alive. The Kindle Paperwhite prides itself on its resemblance of paper. 

Given the number of people of all ages who still read and trust print, it will be a long time before its story ends – if ever.