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Why chose print in a digital world?

With the rise of the Amazon Kindle, the smartphone, and a million other ways to traverse the written word via screen, the world seems to be slowly moving towards a completely digital existence. However, there are still some aspects of traditional ink-on-paper printing that digital media just can’t match.

Take, for example, some statistics within the field of print media. An Oct. 2021 article by Imprint Next writer Kevin Cook lists offset lithography as one of the top 10 printing processes “booming” in today’s market, along with other traditional techniques like screen printing, gravure printing, and embroidery. Offset lithography is also the leading printing process in North America, though its role has been declining slowly as digital printing catches up to the capability of traditional presses.

The longevity of offset lithography as a major printing method helps prove the worth of traditional printing methods, but so do the stylistic aspects of a traditionally printed piece. Take, for example, the charm of a vintage wedding invitation where the embossed lettering is just slightly off, creating a halo effect around the words. This effect was often the result of shifts in the plate of a letterpress during the printing process. Even with the decline of relief printing in popularity, there is still a niche market of craftsman devoted to the process and the unique prints it creates.

Next, lets consider the value of print as it relates to the mind and a person’s learning capabilities. Studies like the 2016 report by Pam Mueller and David Oppenheimer published in “Psychological Science” suggest that the practice of longform print-by-hand notetaking in class helps students to retain the information better. This is due to a variety of factors, predominately that computerized notetakers are more likely to copy words verbatim due to typing being faster than writing (thus merely “transcribing” rather than actually developing new ways to say the information) and that the wide variety of applications available on devices can prove to be distracting. 

Lastly, as an avid reader and writer, I would have to say that the feel of a nicely bound, traditionally printed book is completely unmatched by the plastic and metal Kindle equivalent. The pages on the book are easy on the eyes as opposed to a screen and its electric-white faux paper, and who has ever held a Kindle to their nose and been able to smell the faint mildew-and-wet-earth scent common to well-loved books. No one. Books are nostalgia, books are blood, sweat, and tears. The feel of paper against your fingertips is not easily swiped away; it begs you to stay close and lingers like an old friend, a wind that gives you goosebumps.

So why choose print in a digital world? Take your pick of the reasons. Whether the ancient beauty of mechanical processes, the practicality of handwritten notes, or the classic comforts of case-bound books, the world of print has room in it for folks of any passion, any background, any age.

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