Not so long ago, the immense shift away from physical books and toward e-readers caused my analysts and experts to forecast the end of print publications, perhaps giving the industry a few more years of relevance before fading away into oblivion. In many ways, these predictions were somewhat in line with the truth, at least for some time, as younger consumers appeared to spearhead the move toward digital reading and older generations almost seemed to follow in their footsteps.
However, in what has become one of the hotter topics in the past several years, physical, print publications have proven to be far more resilient than many could have ever imagined not so long ago. From studies indicating the college students are proving to prefer physical textbooks over digital ones, to the impending decline of e-readers and other digital replacements to books, it has become clear that the tides are changing back in a preferable direction for the print industry
Those who were starting to count the print industry out should think again, as research has shown that the sector's long-term slide with respect to declining revenues has finally started to slow, indicating that a resurgent market is likely on the horizon. Businesses can leverage print assets for a wealth of purposes and continue to do so, but the segment related to books and other publications is likely the biggest indication of what might become of the sector in the coming years.
TIME recently reported that a new study from Enders Analysis revealed that demand for ebooks has slowed down at an unprecedented pace, while sales for physical books were actually on the rise toward the end of 2014. Considering the fact that virtually every other product and service out there is going the way of the Internet, it should be somewhat surprising that consumers are changing their reading preferences back to paper-based demands so quickly following such sharp increases in digital sales.
According to the news provider, one book store that has long offered e-readers to customers spoke to this issue in an interview with the Financial Times, affirming that their traditionally popular product is no longer seeing demand. On the other hand, though, the British book store told the source that it has seen physical book sales increase 5 percent in the past month, while others in the market have seen even steadier increases in that same time frame.
For example, TIME pointed to Sam Husain's comments which asserted that paper book sales were up by 11 percent in December, and that e-readers were on a steep decline regardless of which manufacturer was being discussed. Perhaps the most exciting news for the print industry in this story was the book stores are planning to expand their operations to capitalize on the increased demand that is breaking through among current clientele for paper items.
At the end of the day, these trends might go back and forth for a while, but it has become clear that the print industry is not going quietly into the night, nor are the preferences of modern consumers moving completely away from these options.
Lessons for businesses
If nothing else, decision-makers can view this news as being a clear indication that corporate purchasers and consumers alike are still quite fond of print materials, and that digital ones are simply not carrying the same weight any longer. In may ways, firms largely went the digital path to ensure that they remained relevant in the eyes of younger generations so as to maintain or improve upon profit margins as time goes on.
However, it is now somewhat obvious that completely throwing out print publications and materials in the business plan is not the smartest idea, as these assets will still have a strategic advantage over their digital counterparts for years to come. From being viewed as more legitimate and trustworthy to coming back with higher conversion rates by way of marketing than digital advertising has reached thus far, print is still an effective option in the toolkits of businesses from a range of industries around the globe.