Turn the clock back a few years to the early days of e-mail marketing, social media, and mobile communicating, and you’ll find many predictions regarding either the death of print or declarations of its future irrelevance as a sales and marketing tool.
Now, after almost of decade of experience with these new communication technologies, we know that they are adjuncts to print, not replacements.
Much is being made today of the decline of printing. Newspaper and magazine subscribers are dwindling; e-books are gaining in popularity; online advertising is replacing print; and printed products are being assailed as environmentally unsound. So does printing have a future? Does it have a present?
We say unequivocally: yes.
Businesses and organizations know that printing is not about the ink on the paper; it is about the target audience’s reaction to it. As author, journalist, and marketing consultant Cary Sherburne says, “It is not about print; it is about the most effective way to achieve the business objective associated with any given customer communication or campaign.” Print is not dead or dying, though it is changing.
In this issue of Printips we’ll share with you why our outlook on print is so positive.
Regular readers of Printips know that we are proud to be part of a centuries old industry that has contributed significantly to the development of human enterprise. Printing as a profession dates back to the mid-1400s when Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, a breakthrough technology of the day. When combined with a printing press, movable type changed forever both the content and quantity of what could be printed.
Gutenberg’s invention gave rise to typography – the art of designing type and also of arranging or setting type. Until the invention of digital type, typography required either the manufacturing of individual letters in character sets called fonts or a machine to transform molten lead into lines of type. In both cases, type had a physical form and could not be easily used outside of printing and publishing businesses.
More than 500 years after Gutenberg’s contribution, the confluence of three new developments – the personal computer, page layout software, and digital type – moved typography to the desktop, making it accessible outside of the printing and publishing industry.
Have you ever considered the profound effect the invention of paper has had on society? Paper made ideas portable, enabled the sharing of discoveries and inventions, and changed human history from oral to written. Literature, art, education, and communication were all accelerated by the invention of paper.
The technology for making paper as we know it today from the cellulose fibers of wood wasn’t developed until the mid-1800s. Originally natural materials like silk, parchment (the skin of a sheep or goat), or vellum (fine parchment made from the skins of calves, lambs or kids) was used as paper.
Following Gutenberg’s invention of movable type and improvement of the printing press, new papermaking technology was developed based on the fibers from linen rags. The appearance of newspapers in the late 1600s and early 1700s created a severe shortage of rags that led eventually to substituting wood for the fibers in paper. The process was fully developed toward the end of the 19th century.
Printing. Considering the range of ways to “get the marks on paper” today, it is a simple word with a complex meaning. Reduced to the basics, printing is the transfer of images from one surface or source (printing plate or digital file) to another (paper or other substrate) using a medium (ink or toner).
As recently as ten years ago, we printers may have been careful to distinguish between printing using an offset press, and copying using an analog copier. But with the introduction of digital copiers, the distinction is becoming much less important.
At the close of the millennium, many groups viewed the accomplishments of the previous one thousand years and developed listings of the “most influential.” Our vote went to the A&E television channel’s choice for the #1 most influential person of the millennium – the inventor of movable type, Johannes Gutenberg.
Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press is often credited as being the origin of mass communication – Western culture’s first instance of being able to disseminate ideas and information from one source to a larger and more diverse audience. In the early 1450s, fast occurring cultural change in Europe mandated the need for written documents, rapidly and cheaply produced. Gutenberg developed his press by combining features of existing technologies: textile, papermaking, and wine presses. But his most significant innovation was the efficient molding and casting of movable metal type.
Because we are printing professionals, we are very proud to be part of an industry with a long, distinguished history. From time to time, we like to share a part of printing’s history with you as our way of saluting our traditions. We hope you will enjoy this look back at America’s premier printer, Benjamin Franklin.