Why Print Ain't Dead!

By Bob Sacks on January 21, 2015

Why Print Ain't Dead!

Too many times in the last decade pundits, printers, publishers and workers in the ranks have heard or have talked about it themselves - the inescapable, oft repeated mantra that print is dead. I am so tired of it that it boggles the mind.

Here is my statement and you should repeat after me, "Print is not dead or dying. The facts plainly show otherwise." Let's agree right here and now to get on with the necessary process of information distribution for a profit and forget about fear mongering old wives tales.  

In today's marketplace print is one of the largest industries in the world. Print eclipses auto-manufacturing in employment. Did you know that? Did you know that print is a $640 billion dollar business and has been reported to drive $3.8 trillion in related services? That ain't death, nor near death.

If we can finally accept that print is far from dead, we can move on to the truly confused ideological problem of our industry - incorrectly assuming that print and magazines are the same thing. They are not and never have been the same, and their trajectories are not tied together.  Printed magazines, in fact, are a very small part of the entirety of the print business.

The other side of the coin is that even though print is not dying, the sad but inescapable truth is that print magazines are diminishing. Increasingly selling fewer products as an industry is not death nor dying, but it is proof that we are moving on with other communication tools and successfully creating new revenue streams. These new communication tools will one day soon be of much greater value than our old beloved and historic printed products.

In 2007 my company MediaIdeas predicted that by 2020 digital revenue for publishers would be 60% of the revenue stream and print would be 40% as an aggregate revenue of the industry. 

What do you think happens ten years from now in 2025? I feel confident to suggest that that same trend will continue and that the numbers will be something like 80% digital revenue and 20% print.  That 20% print number will still be a figure in the billions, although far from print's heyday in 2007.  

Everything I have said is happening right now and will continue to happen. Although newsstand numbers are abysmal with a loss of over 50% in the last 6 years, many publishers are doing quite well, and some are making boatloads of money. 

If your company stays with print as the main product, you too can be part of the billions that will be left in the field. 

The trick will be to stay smart, agile and very demanding - demanding of your staff and co-workers, as only the very best can and will survive. It doesn't matter what the trends of the overall industry are to individual companies so long as you can continuously produce unsurpassed editorial excellence in your particular niche.


I promise you that far into the future there will be many more magazines in existence than my friends at Publishers Press will be able to print.  The key for both the printers and the publishers will be producing an extremely high quality product that is worth the price you will need to charge to produce such a superior print magazine.


I hope you will now agree that print itself isn't dead or dying, but your continued existence in it is based solely on your ability to produce unique superiority in the magazines that you produce. 

By Bob Sacks| January 21, 2015

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Bob Sacks

Bob Sacks

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