The Independent’s move to a digital-only format has fuelled debates around the ‘death of print’, and predictions of if and how digital could eventually dominate the newstrade.
Drawing on recent events and retailer’s experience, however, there’s clearly something about print that people are not letting go of.
Trinity Mirror’s investment in the launch of a new newspaper is certainly encouraging, as is Johnston Press’ acquisition of the i – if not somewhat surprising (considering the publisher spent £24m of its £41m cash revenue, according to a Peel Hunt analyst).
This year has also seen some publishers bring back their print titles following pressure from consumers. Lloyds List is one example – B2B publisher Informa closed its daily newspaper to go digital-only in 2013, as research showed that more than 97% of its readers preferred to access the information online. However, the publisher bought Lloyds List back to print this year after subscribers refused to migrate to a digital-only package – despite being offered substantial discounts to do so – because they still wanted print as part of their package.
Newsweek is another example. Publisher IBT Media resurrected its print title from a digital-only model after a year’s gap, with the simple reason that readers wanted the print edition.
And it’s not just newspapers. Paul Newman, who heads up Future Publishing’s recently created magazine department, says he is constantly surprised at the findings from his discussion groups with university students, with the overwhelming majority saying they prefer traditional print copies to online content.