The newspaper industry is in turmoil as it tries out online “pay-walls” because it needs to gain revenue having lost circulation in print. Everywhere you go in the newspaper world these days you hear people muttering “print is dead”. Interestingly, as far as I can tell, these are the same people who told us that we would have a “paperless office”. Their ability to predict the future is not brilliant.
Circulations are falling for most newspapers and news executives are quick to “blame” the Internet where we have instant access to news. Of course, it is easy to blame the Internet and much more comfortable doing that, rather than look to your own failings – such as a reduction in ethical standards, poor news judgement, failing to truly understand what the readers want and so on. Those factors may well have more to do with falling newspaper circulations than the presence of the Internet.
One of the problems with the Internet is that you cannot touch it, smell it, feel it. The Internet only involves a few of our senses, whereas printed documents involve others – giving us a more “complete” experience. Indeed, for the “touchy, feely” people in the world, the Internet is a real issue because even though they have to use it, they cannot really, fully engage in the way they would like to. Some of these people even print out their emails so they can feel them, before answering. It gives them greater connection.
We live in a three-dimensional, physical world, yet the Internet is two-dimensional and not physical.
Is it any wonder, then, that time after time studies about the so-called “death of print” find the complete opposite? We love paper and printed documents.
Another study, just published, shows that people are most unlikely to want digital magazines, instead preferring the printed alternative.
The research found that the only encouragement for people to want digital versions of printed magazines is if the digital version included some kind of community – something extra, over and above the printed version. Less than one in five people want a digital magazine.
Sometimes, we rush headlong in to a digital world when, in reality, our customers want something in print. Don’t neglect printed documents – they are still important and valuable to your business.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+