As digital platforms continue to grow in popularity, many of those who previously believed that digital would replace print are coming to recognize a new reality. It’s not “digital OR print.” It’s “digital AND print.” One of the primary reasons for this is that print provides a very different experience than digital.
As Nicolas Brown stated in an article about millennials and print, “The more our lives are influenced by digital media, the more we are drawn to print as a retreat from online space. This unexpected tendency is especially noticeable to a demographic you’d least expect to trend this way: Millennials and their younger siblings.”1
What makes print a respite? This, of course, raises the question: what is it about print that makes it a “retreat”? The answer is that print is an enjoyable experience. It’s tactile. It’s immersive. It requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than reading on a screen.2 In fact, in our fast-paced world, print is now regarded as luxurious and indulgent.
Pop-up ads, flashing banners and other intrusive forms of advertising make screen-based reading at many websites an unpleasant experience. And with hundreds of emails vying for attention in the inbox, many people spend very little time reading (or deleting!) each one. In contrast, books, magazines, postcards, brochures, catalogs and other printed materials can be read and enjoyed at a slower pace, without the distractions of intrusive advertising or the stress and pressure of a full email inbox.
Print is simply different than digital As advertisers in “high luxury” categories such as fashion and jewelry have discovered, it’s very hard to reproduce the physical allure of a magazine in a digital platform. There’s just something about “the sheen of the paper, the way that the ink sits on the page, the smell of money and desire that wafts off the page,” explains Nicholas Coleridge, international president of Vogue.3
Print is such a comfortable and enjoyable experience that it is trusted, savored, shared, dog-eared and displayed … a welcome respite from the hectic pace of the digital world.