A World Without Print?
Sometimes it's hard for people to understand just how much the printing industry touches their lives every day. And the more time I spend with printers, the more I appreciate the reach of this industry.
Many in the general public hear that a print publication is closing and they think that print is a dying business. For example, when Time magazine cuts jobs or ceases publication of Life magazine the naysayers proclaim, "Print is dead." Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is printed magazines are not going anywhere. In fact, dozens of new magazines are launched every month. If you'd like to see how many new print magazines begin life each month check out the LaunchMonitor section of Mr. Magazine's website. Every month Samir Husni, Ph.D. publishes a list of new magazines on his site. There were 12 new magazines started in the month of September alone.
An interesting new magazine that began its life in print is Type magazine. The online publication printed its first ink-on-paper edition in early September. This is just one of many examples of online media moving to traditional print media. And, the printing industry is far more than ink-on-paper magazines.
Open the Package
When you get up in the morning and take a shower how do you know which bottle contains the shampoo and which bottle is the conditioner? There's a printed label that helps you identify the correct bottle. Similarly, how did you know which box of cereal is the Wheaties?
If, later in the day, you open the front door of your house and find a package, without printing on the package how do you know whether to open it or call the bomb squad? And, how do you know if it's the bomb squad that just pulled up outside your house if there's no sign on the truck or logos and names on the uniforms of the people getting out of the truck?
Now, let's say you decide to open the package outside your door. Inside you find a product. Without printing, there would be no labels on the dials of the product to indicate which is the "On" switch and which is the "Off" switch. There would be no printed instructions to explain how to operate the product. And, what if this were a gift? How would you know without printed images on the wrapping paper? And, this is just the beginning.
Let's say you leave your house to go to work. On your way, you stop at a popular coffee shop. You order your favorite drink. You pull out your wallet to pay. Without printing, the currency would be unidentifiable. Perhaps you'd pull out your debit card. Without printing, it would be nothing but a blank piece of plastic. As you look around the coffee shop there would be no newspapers in the rack. There would be no posters on the wall. No window clings to advertise the latest discount special. There would be no stack of cards on the counter offering a free music download from your favorite music sharing website. And, there'd be no receipt to show that you paid for your drink.
Once at work, how would you function? There'd be no letters on your computer keyboard. No signs on the restroom or stockroom doors? No reports to read, no instructions to follow to complete your tasks. No paycheck or record of the company's business transactions. When you stop by the supermarket, on your way home from work, how would you know a box of laundry detergent from a box of cereal? Does the bag on the shelf contain potato chips or pretzels? When you check out, without print you'd have no rewards card. And, once again, how would you pay for anything without being able to identify what's in your wallet?
For those that believe that technology is all that is needed, they have likely taken for granted that the box their iPhone arrived in was printed as were the instructions contained in the box.
There are PIASC member companies that produce all of the required printed materials to make our life livable. We have members who produce labels for bottles and others that print corrugated and paperboard packaging. Our members print signs, vehicle wraps, and window clings. Still, others print on shirts and uniforms. And that's just the beginning.
If you need magazines, wrapping paper or rewards or debit cards we have members that produce those materials every day.
So, when someone tries to tell you "Print is dead," remind them that print is everywhere. It touches every part of their life. Our members are incredible companies full of creative people with very productive careers. Print is truly an amazing industry.