This is what a print comeback looks like.
What we saw in 2015 was a natural rediscovery of what we always liked about print, what we forgot we liked, and what still we miss about it. We miss holding books, and physically shopping in real time for them, and are tired of passwords, accounts, screens, batteries, and other technical things that interfere with digital reading. We want to be reading sometimes without any distraction.
This rediscovery occurred across many segments reminding us what makes print special, and why we like it. Young people asserted their preference for print as a medium.
They don't take print for granted. They prize it.
Science produced more reasons to why we should read from it. Reading from print helps the brain form mental maps. Plus other intangibles like a lack of distractions, improved focus, slower reading, all that add up to improve comprehension. Paper beats digital, in many ways. The classroom is better off with print.
Overly complicated and overpriced educational materials, usually incorporating some kind of technical feature to restrict resale- led to a popular movement in 2015 for Open Textbooks and Open Educational Resources.
Publishers have complicated the simple print textbook and turned it into in a Star Trek Borg-like mutation of log-ins, access codes, and short life spans.
This year, we found that Open products have a great future in the classroom because they are as good or better than traditional materials, and easier to distribute to the students, and easier for them to print if they prefer to consume them that way.
The American College Textbook Act was passed as a result. The White House joined in. Faculty members like Alain Bourget rebelled against the publisher's textbook racket and stood his ground against the department head's decision and chose an Open Textbook for his course that was as good as the one required, and was free.
Other instructors reevaluated their own selections for course materials, and others took to creating their own OERS, some from grants. The printed coursepack came back too.
Print is still the killer app for education. It gets the job of learning done better than anything.
Despite all of the hype to digitize learning, American College students said they would rather study with real books. And prefer to buy print versions when offered. The laptop in the classroom shows a decrease in student performance, while handwriting produces a positive impact, and preferred result. Print isn't just "old-school," it is school.
2015 saw new bookstores (& new hybrids) pop-up serving both new and used book markets-for the first time in a long time- while Ebook sales slowed or dropped (depending on who you ask) for the first time in that period. The ebook service Oyster closed it's shop. Printed books sales went up.
Print as a sustainable & renewable industry was focused on- it's not a depleting resource, but the opposite. Print depends on paper, an industry as green as they come. Use it, enjoy it.
Marketers noticing this brought back print into luxury marketing. Print evokes an emotional impact on the reader that enhances the subject matter. The catalog and the magazine returned with a freshness that was appealing. Plus the 'Zine returned. People want print.
We also saw the 25th anniversary of the device that simplified printing, and connected the printer to the computer. The Xerox Docutech. This device started a movement that simplified the process for printing not seen since Gutenberg, the benefits of which have now extended to nearly every printshop and every piece of printed material.
So that brings us to "The Martian." Assuming that the value of every item launched is weighed against it's weight, we found it fascinating to see a simple 3 ring binder get screen time as a solution to one of the highest priority problems on the Red Planet. Print is Portable. No batteries required.
What 2015 tells us is that print as a format isn't going away anytime soon, and in our opinion, shows how print can continue to grow as its features are rediscovered.
None of this is a coincidence. Print is Good.