Hot For the Press

Why print media still turns us on 

No matter who you are, if you read, it could not have escaped your notice that your daily dose of information has shifted almost entirely to digital in the last half decade. And digital is here to stay. It has single-handedly democratised our access to information, as anyone with a Wi-Fi connection can now talk to anyone on the other side of the world or learn to do anything from opening a restaurant to mastering the macaron. But… and this is a big one… somehow, after almost every trend analyst predicted the death of print, we still yearn for it – even if the shape of print has changed a great deal. So, what is it about print that makes it such a survivor?


In other words, it’s not. Call it what you will – e-hoarding, cyberhoarding, digital pack rattery – digital hoarding is one of the fastest growing sub-types of hoarding disorder, and a major cause of stress and a general inability to keep your life together. Although there are still those who cling to their newspaper subscriptions like it’s 1995, other print publications have succeeded better in creating content that is timeless, collectable and worth holding on to for real inspiration. Coffee table books, cookbooks and photography books are just some examples of publications that have managed to stand the test of time, but the notion of a more episodic, journal-style publication has also gained a lot of ground in recent years for the same reasons.


 A lot of research in the last decade suggests that screens don’t engage us nearly as much as the printed word. It’s more addictive, sure, especially since the invention of the infinite scroll, but if you’re looking to be swept away by a story, you need to engage your imagination more – and without the distraction of ads in the side bar or other, clickable links luring you to follow their trail of breadcrumbs to who-knows-where. And as FOMO kicks in full-force, you tend to scroll past information that you would otherwise have found very interesting – or that would have made a meaningful difference to your life – because you got distracted by something newer or shinier along the way. In short, nothing compares to a highly curated, well-designed publication where the content was carefully considered and created to last.


To bring a book or magazine into the real world requires a great deal of resources whereas anyone with a phone or laptop can get their message out there in almost countless ways. You can get a website up and running in under an hour or create a social media account (with adjoining online shop) in less time than that. And most people know this. So, when you hold a publication in your hands, it carries more gravity – both physically and psychologically. You might not know what goes into getting an image converted from a configuration of pixels into a delicate flow of ink drying on a page – or what went into cutting the paper to size and binding them together into one beautiful volume, but you know first-hand that it took a great deal more than taking a selfie and posting it to your Stories.

In the end, there is nothing that will stop the flow of information that has been ushered in by the digital age – and nor should there be – but in an increasingly intangible world, print still comes with a very real sense of ownership that we may, in some sense, have lost. There is a place in this world for both, and one should not be replaced by the other.