Publishers Still Confident (Sort of) In Print

The purported migration from print to digital platforms and long-promised demise of “dead tree and paper media” never seemed to get here as expected. But now that tablet and smartphone touchscreens give many people more credible non-print modes of content consumption, the “death of print” has re-emerged as a cultural trope.

Not so fast, say publishers. In its annual survey of publications, the Audit Bureau of Circulations finds that confidence in print’s survival remains high -- albeit a tad more shaky than in the past. Among the newspaper and magazine publications polled by ABC in late 2011, which audits print and digital circulation, only 12% agreed that their brands would be “digital-only” within the next five years. Still, that is twice the number who agreed just a year before.

The stalwarts of print remain, well, stalwart. A year ago 34% of publications strongly disagreed that they would be digital-only in five years -- precisely the same share as the year before. But it is in that middle ground where some slippage is apparent. In 2010 44% just “disagreed” with the digital-only proposition, but by last year it had dropped a bit to 42%.

The biggest shift in confidence comes in those who are now unsure. While a year ago 18% declared a neutral position on the matter, now only 12% do. In other words, the uncertainty over some inevitable print to digital migration has moved more toward certainty among those who had been undecided.    

To be sure, 76% of publishers overall still believe their titles will be in print in five years. 

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3 comments about "Publishers Still Confident (Sort of) In Print".
  1. Kevin Bullard from ILFUSION Creative , February 21, 2012 at 10:02 a.m.
    No they are not - they are fleeing this dead industry like lifeboats fleeing the Titanic...
  2. Russ Stanton from TCS , February 21, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
    Hey Kevin...what evidence do you have for that. I would think that it's true with ebooks outselling paper two Christmases in a row, but look at the figures in this article. Could be a classic state of denial.
  3. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc. , February 21, 2012 at 6:40 p.m.
    Of course, live performances of music ceased 130 years ago when the phonograph was invented, theater died 120 years ago when movies were invented, public speaking 95 years ago when radio became widespread, and as we all know, movies ended about 70 years ago when television came on the scene. So many media corpses. We have nothing to worry about. We'll have more trees than we know what to do with in a couple of years, when print ends once and for all!