Of all the supply-chain issues plaguing the media marketplace, the one I would not have anticipated becoming a significant issue was the ability to fulfill growing demand for an analog medium: printed books.
But that’s what is happening, according to new data from the Book Manufacturers’ Institute, which released estimates for July showing that “demand has skyrocketed and supply chain woes continue to hamper all segments of manufacturing,” including both hardcover and softcover books.
I wish the institute provided more data about what has sparked demand for the print medium, but its data focuses more on manufacturing capacity.
That said, I’m going to guess it’s not just a seasonal thing –- you know, folks headed to the beach to enjoy summer reading the old-fashioned way, with sand between the pages of a good book, not scratching the screen of a smartphone -- but is something more fundamental: that people still like holding print media in their hands, turning pages and tactilely feeling media between their fingers.
The truth is, media is not an either-or proposition -- you can have print and digital media alongside each other, so long as the economics work -- and for the “printed word,” nothing beats actual print.
I imagine I’ll be eating my digital words ten years from now, when Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for a fully developed metaverse comes to fruition and our avatars are sitting in front of virtual waves crashing while turning digital pages as if they were real ones.
But even as the media universe continues to expand, and as the supply of media options continue to proliferate, nothing will replace print.