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The Power of Print in the Digital Age

Print is reclaiming its territory as a desirable content resource — and for good reason. We explore consumer trends behind the resurgence of print and how they affect content strategy.


By Rachel Adams

How people use and interact with digital technology and connectivity today has massively impacted how they run their lives, manage relationships, build skills — and how they consume content.

And while digital content trends have impacted the print scene in many of the ways you’d expect — with people consuming more content online and less on paper — not all print mediums have been diminished by the rise of the World Wide Web.

In fact, it could be said that print is getting a second wind — and we’re into it.

The Resurgence of Print

Alongside the rise of the digital era, it’s not surprising that revenue of U.S. periodical publishers has decreased significantly in the past decade — from $46 billion in 2007 to $28 billion in 2017.

But while print newspapers experienced significant cuts in readership, other print mediums, such as magazines, held their ground. In fact, the number of magazine readers in the U.S. has increased since 2012, while the number of magazines has stayed relatively constant — from around 7,383 to 7,218 since 2008.

The opportunity isn’t lost on publishers. In 2019 alone, 139 print magazine brands that publish at least quarterly were launched, as reported by the Association of Magazine Media.

The opportunity isn’t lost on brands, either.

In fact, print’s growing popularity is amplified by the entrance of unlikely brands and publications to the print scene, including Goose Island’s Ingrain, Callaway’s Pivot, Bumble’s Bumble Mag and Away’s Here.

Of course, let’s not forget Airbnb Magazine, REI’s Uncommon Path and Uber’s Vehicle.

Another example of print’s resurgence? Digital publications that are making moves to print. WebMD, for instance, launched WebMD the Magazine in 2005. Starting with a circulation of 1 million, the magazine was serving an audience of more than 10 million in 2016.

For People: An Experience That Inspires

Digital content is easy to access anywhere and anytime — no need to wait for a magazine to arrive in the mail. Plus, you can scan multiple sources quickly to find the information you need exactly when you need it.

So, why do people like print?

Print has the power to inspire. Survey data shows that, compared to websites and television, print magazines more effectively inspire readers in their own lives and connect with them on an emotional level.

Print is viewed as trustworthy. The same survey shows people are less likely to worry about whether the information in a print magazine is accurate and truthful.

It’s fun. People consider the time they spend reading a magazine a “treat,” and say it improves their mood, makes them happier and reminds them of the things they enjoy most, the survey shows. In other words, reading a print magazine is an experience — and one that people like.

Sometimes, people want to disconnect. A different survey found 52% of respondents feel they spend too much time on digital devices, and a third consider themselves to be in “digital overload.” Magazines provide entertainment, interest and information — without a screen.

For Brands: A Conductor for Connection

Fortunately for brands, the reasons people like print are the same reasons that make print a great conductor for connecting more deeply with their audiences. And for certain organizations, such as nonprofit organizations that rely on donor engagement, these deeper connections can be invaluable.

For example, the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust’s Spirit of Giving publication tells the stories of the extraordinary people, research and results happening at the nationally ranked pediatric hospital.

Likewise, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s bi-annual alumni magazine, Lift, is designed to drive connections with its various audience members by serving readers the experience they’re seeking from a magazine with bold graphics, compelling stories and captivating photography.

Across the board, brands and organizations are turning to print to drive engagement with their audience. And, for many, it’s working.

What Can Print Do for Your Organization?

Let’s chat about how print can help you connect on a deeper level with your audience. We have some fun ideas that work.

Get in Touch

Rachel Adams Overlay Blue
Rachel Adams Editor

Rachel is an editor, content enthusiast and grammar fiend. With nearly eight years of editorial experience, she’s served on numerous print and digital publications representing a range of industries — a feat that’s honed her ability to create content for various audiences and objectives. At Casual Astronaut, she helps develop and direct content strategies that drive engagement and success.

Rachel is an avid reader of books and blogs. She spends her free time fixing or replacing items destroyed by her dog, Penelope, and cat, Kevin. Thrift stores are home-away-from-home for Rachel, who loves outdated furniture, vintage electronics and funky sweaters.

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