As a generation of people, we have the privilege of witnessing one of the greatest revolutions in technology. Developments in technology have completely changed the way we communicate and exchange and perceive information. In an era of so many new options though, you might wonder if printing still has a place, and this is where a discussion about digital printing comes in…

Yes, it is true that in this digital age we increasingly use our electronic devices to talk to friends, read the news, and even read books. However, most people prefer the physical sensation of paper on their fingertips and the act of flipping pages. In fact, if you were to gift people the same book in a physical and e-version, you’d find they’d probably prefer using the physical paper version.

So why do e-versions sell so much if people prefer the paper-based versions? Instant gratification plays a key role here. For example, let’s look at a person who is searching for advice on a certain topic.

They can go to a search engine, type “advice about this and that” and get to read an advice article in seconds. This is so much more instantly gratifying then heading to the local newsstand, flipping through the magazines, and then finding one with a similar advice column.

But this previous example refers to people seeking out information on their own. Let’s take an example where you’re the one sending them or giving them something. Consider for example a product catalog. If you send people a printed catalog, they see it as having higher value than if you send them a PDF or a webpage with the same product listings.

They are more likely to browse that printed catalog, and they are more likely to place it in an accessible place for when they need to purchase something. As opposed to that PDF catalog which is likely to get lost somewhere on their computer drive, and to never be opened, ever again.

Digital printing today in the digital age

Printed material is still widely used across the world, especially so in contexts that do not trigger an instant gratification mindset. There are a wide range of modern technologies threatening to banish paper for good, but so far, they’re only “winning” in limited contexts.

In fact, this is why digital printing is experiencing growing success, because it brings the convenience of publishing e-materials, while resulting in paper-based materials that have a higher-perceived value.

Learning

Most of us first get acquainted with printed materials in our early childhood, usually through children’s storybooks or illustrated encyclopedias. Even today, education is based on learning from printed materials.

Communication

Real, tangible, physical letters and notes are still used widely when we want to show we are serious. A printed note is always taken more seriously than someone sending a note by email or a messaging service. This is why newspapers, catalogs, pamphlets and even bills still use print to communicate a message.

Entertainment

Although many people tend to go online to get their daily dose of entertainment, print still has a huge role in the area of casual reading. One good example for this are the many magazines and printed fiction book publishers that are still in business. In fact, these magazines and publishers have a much stronger fan base than their digital counterparts.

Marketing

The digital age has created many new advertising channels. However, traditional marketing methods are regarded as much more trustworthy. Unlike online marketing, advertising done in print gives off an impression that the advertiser is reliable and trustworthy. The advertiser has made a considerable effort to let the target audience know about their products or services.

Print vs. digital and price vs. value in the digital age

When it comes to choosing between print and digital, the conclusion is always ambiguous. Moreover, when it comes to comparing cost and efficiency, things get even more blurry. It is usually assumed that going digital is the better choice.

To the average consumer of digital media in e-books, newspapers, magazines or advertisements, things seem simple. Digital media doesn’t require paper, printing, or physical distribution. But in the grand scheme of things, some facts are often overlooked.

Expenditures: Example no. 1

Publications in digital form also have teams working on them. A digital product of this nature must be maintained and upgraded at all times. But, other than writers and editors, the finished product also requires a team of skilled engineers and programmers. Workers in computer science and software engineering fields are the costliest workforce.

Revenues: Example no. 2

The advertising opportunities within a medium of choice make a huge difference in terms of revenue. Whether we’re talking about print or electronic media, advertising opportunities impact the bottom line in a significant way.

Often times a publication will find it hard to make a profit through ads placed on its online version. This is why you see so many online publications prioritizing the subscription model, which is a whole new kind of game. And for many publications, the subscription model simply doesn’t work. They do not attract an audience willing to pay for that content.

In fact, electronic publications such as tablet magazines are in fact rarely more profitable or less expensive to produce.

Digitally printed over plain digital material in the digital age

There are a few fundamental factors that address the differences between digitally printed and fully digital materials. Take everything into consideration before deciding whether you want to see your product on the newsstand or at the app store.

Audience ability to adapt

If you’re planning to jump headfirst in the world of digital media, there are some very important points to consider. These factors are even more important if you’re considering transitioning your printed publication over to a digital publication.

There are many things about print products that just can’t translate to digital, the look and feel of your publication being one of them.

More importantly, it’s impossible to do a perfect conversion of your audience. If you’ve spent a while building a print-based brand, don’t believe that your clientele will simply follow you over to the digitally published side.

This applies whether you are publishing books, magazines, catalogs, or anything, really. If you go to the fully digital side, you need to understand this is a completely new audience.

If you have an ad-supported, print-based publication, don’t expect all of your advertisers to just simply make all their ads digital, just so they can follow along with you.

Authenticity

Whether it’s a book, magazine, or a marketing campaign you’re trying to put out there, the medium you choose is going to impact your success. What matters is choosing a medium that will promote your message well.

One of the main reasons people still rely on digital printing is the authenticity of printed material. Digital materials, and especially those residing on the web are still seen as less serious. People know that anyone can just put out an e-book, a PDF, or webpage with no real effort or cost. Getting something printed takes some effort, and hence has a higher perceived value. Books, articles, ads, and catalogs in print hold bigger value and are recognized as being more genuine by the public.

Probing the market

In terms of your overall success, the market you choose plays a substantial part in how well your product will sell. It’s important to choose a market that’s appropriate for the audience you’re trying to target. However, no matter which market you choose, you must study it well beforehand.

The market for digital publications is still a work in progress. There are many different ways to release a digital publication, making the process even more confusing. However, when it comes to digitally printed material, the tried and true methods for probing the market are still valid and work better than ever. The maturity of the digital print market makes it highly reliable.

Your audience and loyalty

Whether you want to release a book or start a marketing campaign, you must know your targeted demographic. When deciding whether to use digital or print, people’s opinion on electronics and gadgets shouldn’t be one of your main metrics. Undoing your efforts by splitting your potential audience in two is not the best decision.

Regarding your overall audience and its loyalty, digital releases do not offer the stability that releases in print do. The nature of the digital marketplace is such that readers can easily get overwhelmed with distractions. In that respect, consumers of printed media can stay more focused on your content. They give it their full and undivided attention.