Something unexpected happened in 2015. After years of predictions the printing industry was in decline, sales in physical books pushed past the doldrums and started to increase.
Following the release of eBook readers in 2007, pundits had forecast a new era for publishing which didn’t include printed books. For over five years, those projections appeared to be on target. Hard copy book sales crashed and bookshops across the world closed down as reading enthusiasts went digital.
While the reasons for the 2015 turnaround are varied, the mere fact many of us still prefer physical books is a strong sign print has life in it yet.
And it’s not just books maintaining our love for the real. Printed catalogues have long defied a view that all marketing should be digital. Despite the rise of online and mobile marketing, catalogues remain popular with consumers and are still one of the top three methods we find out about products.
Always on the lookout for ideas to grab our attention, marketers understand the enduring value of print. Clever packaging techniques and stand-out letterbox marketing ideas remain widely used as brands keep an edge on the competition.
It starts with good design
Marketers and designers know trends which appeal to consumers will vary year to year. Print now provides increased opportunity to keep up with those changes.
Innovative designs don’t need to stay on a screen but can be transferred onto a wide range of tangible products. Recycled and sustainable materials are often preferred while the ability to re-purpose packaging or printed items is gaining interest.
Thinking outside the box
The disruptions faced by the printing industry are not uncommon. However, those businesses who embrace the changes and take a fresh approach will see disruption as an opportunity. The transformation of print to meet market demands is already generating fresh ideas and new business prospects.
Different techniques and technologies are providing greater choices in material and formats. For example, we’ve witnessed the introduction of white toner for printing on coloured paper. More recently, Ricoh introduced a simple but revolutionary idea to add a fifth colour station to its Pro C7100X commercial digital press alongside the release of new pink and yellow neon toners.
And for those wanting to add shine and bling, the ability to print on metallic papers using digital printers is now easier and more effective.
Meeting individual demands
Across many industries, mass production is giving way to customisation. Having your name printed on a label of a jar of your favourite breakfast spread is just the beginning.
Individualised apparel will be among the next big things with the release of desktop Direct to Garment printers this year. Print images from smartphones and tablets or peronalised designs, as needed, on everything from t-shirts to tote bags, cushions to pillow cases.
However, the print on demand movement doesn’t end there. Imagine walking into a bookshop and getting your favourite classic or new release printed for you there and then. It may be surprising to learn it’s already a reality. French start-up Orséry has launched a business around personalised, on-demand book production. Choose a book from their online catalogue then get your local bookshop or library to print and bind it onsite – all in the time it takes to make and drink a cup of coffee.
Undoubtedly, we are in a new age of enlightenment where digital and print come together to create different experiences and opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. Therefore, long live print.