The Printed Word Is Alive and Well on College Campuses

By: Jonathan Oleisky

Has our digital-centric, social media-focused world effectively erased the printed word?

I would argue that it has changed the way in which messages are delivered, but it has not succeeded in the total eradication of print. For proof, visit any college campus.

Last week, I had coffee with Cody Boteler, Class of 2017, who has just stepped down as editor of The Towerlight, Towson University’s independent, student weekly newspaper. Each week, The Towerlight publishes and distributes thousands of copies of its award-winning publication. Yes, the paper has a daily e-newsletter and dynamic website, but the printed weekly publication remains its primary advertising and branding vehicle. Full disclosure: I serve on the nonprofit board of Baltimore Student Media, which owns the student-run newspaper. While I clearly have the paper’s best interest in mind, I’m thrilled that the printed version continues to be relevant to its student, faculty and staff readers.

Earlier this fall, my wife and I attended parent’s weekend at Bowdoin College where we visited our youngest daughter, who is now finishing her freshman year. Parents from around the country were welcomed to the college’s charming New England community with a nasty, multi-day rainstorm. We spent most of our time inside many academic buildings on Bowdoin’s beautiful campus.

As a marketer what struck me the most, was the sheer volume of brightly colored mini-posters announcing every type of college club, upcoming campus event, pot-luck dinner, social engagement, community protest (yep, a ton of those), athletic event or academic lecture. The student union’s walls and super-sized bulletin boards were covered with these posters.

This sea of paper seemed to me to be at odds with the students who were raised in the digital age. (That weekend, non-digital natives – the parents—we were just as connected.) If we communicate via devices, I wondered, what was with all the paper and such a traditional mode of communication. So, I asked a digital native, my daughter. Yes, she uses Bowdoin’s social media feeds to stay connected to college goings-on, but admits to learning about events on campus from the flyers.

The next time someone tells you that “print is dead,” suggest that they go visit the campuses of Towson University and Bowdoin College. I’m sure that the situation is the same on any campus across the country. The next generation of marketing professionals might tell you otherwise, but I’m happy to say that at least on two college campuses, print is alive and well.

Tell us whether or not you think that the demise of the printed word is on the horizon.

Author: Jonathan Oleisky

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Real Books Are Back. E-book Sales Plunge Nearly 20%

By: Ivana Kottasová

Are physical books the new vinyl?

New data suggest that the reading public is ditching e-books and returning to the old fashioned printed word.

Sales of consumer e-books plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children's books surged 16%.

The same trend is on display in the U.S., where e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.

"The print format is appealing to many and publishers are finding that some genres lend themselves more to print than others and are using them to drive sales of print books," said Phil Stokes, head of PwC's entertainment and media division in the U.K.

Stokes said that children's book have always been more popular in print, for example, and that many people prefer recipe books in hardback format.

"Coloring books were a big trend over the past few years... and giving a book as a gift is far less impressive if you are giving a digital version," he added.

Experts say that many people are also trying to limit their screen time.

U.K. regulator Ofcom found that one third of adults had attempted a "digital detox" in 2016 by limiting their use of smartphones, tablets and other devices.

The return to paper is also hurting device manufacturers.

Sales of e-readers declined by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016, according to consumer research group Euromonitor International.

"E-readers, which was once a promising category, saw its sales peak in 2011. Its success was short-lived, as it spiraled downwards within a year with the entry of tablets," Euromonitor said in a research note.

According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans reported reading a printed book in the past year, compared to only 28% who read an e-book.

A quarter of the population hadn't read a book of any kind, whether in print, electronic or audio form.

By: Ivana Kottasová

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Why Some Magazines Are Going Back to Print

By: Michelle Castillo

At a time when print publications are shuttering their physical editions, Paste is going back to print.

The publication, which has been around since 2002, ceased its monthly print edition in 2010. However, it has found that among its 7 million digital readers exists a hankering for a copy of the magazine they can hold in their hands. To meet that demand, it's relaunching a quarterly print edition, which will ship with a vinyl sampler for its readers. The first issue will be March 2017.

"There is some aspect of it that is a throwback," said Josh Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Paste. "So much of what we consume is online. There is something about having a physical product. … If you are going own something, it should feel and look beautiful and it should be something to savor."

Paste's decision comes at a time when many larger publishers are struggling to keep their print products viable. Bloomberg Pursuits said at the beginning of December it would be ending its print edition. Around the same time, Conde Nast's Self magazine also said it would be going digital only with special print editions. Complex's last print edition will be its December 2016/January 2017 issue. The New York Observer announced in November it would be ending its print version. Earlier in September, Mental Floss ended its print run.

Print advertising costs considerably more than digital advertising to reach the same amount of readers. With subscribers migrating online, advertising budgets are shrinking. About 38.4 percent of marketing budgets will go to digital advertising next year, overtaking the 35.8 percent of once ad category leader TV, according to eMarketer. Print's share has dwindled to around 13 percent, with 6.6 percent going to newspapers and 6.4 percent going to magazines.

Still, Paste isn't the only publication going back to print. Spin published its first print edition since 2012 in October. And, some previously online-only publications are trying their hand at a physical product. Advertising publication Digiday launched a quarterly print magazine, Pulse, in April. Jewish news site Tablet launched a bimonthly print edition in late fall 2015.

"When the vinyl resurgence happened in 2008, that was very much in response to music being digitized," said Stephen Blackwell, chief strategy officer of Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group. "Our audience is consuming 70 percent of our content on a mobile device. But for this 18-to-34-year-old millennial generation, I think there is a bit of a nostalgia factor. There is a totally different experience bouncing around a print component. It forces you to focus in on what you are doing. I think that is really what you are seeing."

Billboard-The Hollywood Reporter Media Group acquired SpinMedia publications Spin, Vibe and Stereogum on Friday. Blackwell was formerly the chief executive officer of SpinMedia.

To be fair, the majority of publications choosing to start the print route have niche or very targeted audiences. Paste and Spin both said they have no intention of slowing their digital output or resurrecting their previously monthly editions.

And, both publishers' print editions come with huge caveats. Spin only did a one-off free print edition sponsored by Amazon Studios for its show "Good Girls Revolt." About 15,000 copies were distributed at hotels, record stores, barber shops and other cultural hubs. It also published a corresponding digital edition for those who couldn't get a copy. The online version got hundreds of thousands of readers.

However, Blackwell said thanks to the success of the Spin/Amazon collaboration, it is offering the print edition as an advertising option to its partners. He added the print edition was able to garner a lot of media attention, which brought more attention to Amazon's advertising campaign.

"This was an instance where the scale and [return on investment] came out of the digital front, but were able to make this really cool piece of value out of the print response," Blackwell explained.

Paste, on the other hand, will cover all print costs through its subscription fees. Each issue will cost $20, with $70 getting readers a full-year subscription. Any print advertisers the media company can secure will be additional revenue. But going more frequently than four times a year would be too costly, Jackson said.

"We're not looking at this as a sort of pivot back to becoming a print brand," said Jackson. "I don't see print ever being nearly as big as our online presence. But I hope we will be able to find more cool things to do with the magazine. It's expensive, but we're sparing no expense in the making of it."

Author: Michelle Castillo

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