The year 2017 is the 572nd birthday of the printing industry. Born in the heart of medieval Europe, printing spread throughout the world, and brought literacy and learning to everyone touched by it.
Printing survived cinema, radio, and television. Printing survived censorship, poor writing, and bad ideas. Printing survived war and peace, boom and bust. Printing survived mechanisation, automation, and interminable technological upheaval.
Printing will survive the internet and e-books and all those misguided souls who say that print is dead. Print will survive Facebook and Twitter. Print is more alive than at any other time in its history. Print will survive Instagram.
You cannot achieve with pixels on a screen the look and feel of ink on paper.
A beautiful printed brochure says as much about the product it promotes as the text and images. The medium truly is the message.
Try to reach every person in a selected community by e-mail – there is no way. However, you can get a mailing list by postal code and mail to them. Or deliver to every residence or business. Printing is democratic in that it is accessible by anyone, anytime, anyplace, without special readers or energy. Read a book to a child. The book becomes the embodiment of what the book taught. The child will treasure the book, but will not treasure an electronic file and fall asleep with it.
Some print will decline as we substitute electronic methods. This is to be expected as technologies clash and certain printed products lose to more effective approaches. But new printed products will evolve to fill the void because printing technology is not standing still. We can now print on virtually any substrate and this will engender new products and new markets.
If all printing disappeared and someone invented communication on paper, the world would proclaim it to be a marvelous invention.
That already happened – 572 years ago. The future of print will still be print.
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