Thirty-three years ago, Dr. Egon Spengler of the Ghostbusters boldly claimed that “Print is dead.” Now, over three decades later, print is still kicking. If we’re honest with ourselves, at this point in time, it really should be dead. We live in the age of the Kindle, where users can access any article or book through their smart devices. But despite all of the technological advancements that have made reading more convenient, books, magazines, and newspapers live on.
There are many different reasons for print’s perseverance. One of the main reasons, which may be obvious, is that many people simply prefer print over digital content. A 2015 survey by Two Sides North America found that the preference for consuming content on paper comprised 77 percent of the sample and spanned all age groups. In addition, 81 percent of respondents said that they were most relaxed when reading content on paper, while smartphones were viewed as the least relaxing way to read. In fact, many people opt to print out documents rather than read them digitally. Seventy-four percent believed printed documents were easier to read, and 55 percent believed printed documents to be more secure.
Besides being just a preference, there are actual benefits to printed content. For instance, a study by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer in Sage Journals found that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more than those who take notes digitally (i.e., on their laptops). The study utilized three experiments, in which students took notes in a classroom setting and then were tested on their memory for details, conceptual understandings, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information. Half of the students were instructed to take digital notes, while the other half took their notes longhand. While the students on laptops were able to take more notes, those who wrote their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding of the information being recorded.
And, on top of all of that, print may hold the advantage when it comes to advertising as well. This is especially true when you consider that digital readers coming to news sites stay for less than five minutes per the Pew Research Center. Print allows for a slower read, which means ads are more likely to stick with the reader. As our world becomes increasingly digitized, it looks like print, the tried and true method of reading, is here to stay.
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