Should You Go Print or Digital When Publishing?





So you’ve started planning for that big publication. You know what you want it to be about, and you’ve got some great content to go in it. You’ve got all of your ducks in a row—except for one. When this publication is all said and done, how will your readers see it? Will they see it in print, or will they look at it on a screen?

Neither print nor digital is necessarily stronger than the other in every aspect, but there are pros and cons to both. Read on to find out and decide for yourself what’s right for you!

Print

PROS

Physical materials make a more lasting impression. According to a recent study conducted by the United States Post Office, printed materials improve the accuracy of recall in memory. Print media produces deeper brain activity, improving the likelihood that you’ll actually remember specific details of what you read.

You’ll stand out next to competitors that are going entirely digital. There are whispers in the industry that print is dead, but in reality print has just changed as a medium. Print media is indeed a little sparser. However, a few high-quality and well-produced pieces can have a more lasting impact in comparison to publishing entirely online. Sending those polished materials via snail mail, for example, is far more likely to catch your reader’s eye since fewer companies are bothering to print them.

Print can make it more possible to reach your target market. If you have a book of poetry that you’d like to get out locally to those who would appreciate it, it can be as easy as calling up local libraries or coffee-shop hot spots to see if they’ll let you put some copies out. Although it can take a little work, having physical distribution can make it easier for you to go right where your target audience is.

CONS

You can get fancy, but it will cost you. The basics of printing are surprisingly cheaper than you think, but beyond that, things start to get pricey. You want a unique die cut? A fancy finish? Those extras start to add up quickly. And if you were hoping that gold foil printing was cheap—forget about it.

Print requires planning and lead time. Say it’s a Wednesday and you absolutely need to get 5,000 booklets printed by Friday. Chances are you’re about to be disappointed. Printing tends to be a pretty scheduled process, and as the saying goes, ‘a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part’. Sometimes printers can work with you to get your material out faster, but most of the time you just have to wait your turn in line.

Once you print it—it’s not easy to change. So you passed up that last chance to proofread and didn’t realize until now that the booklet in your hands details all of the information for a “specail” event. Your options are pretty limited at this point. When something is already printed, you’re on the hook for a reprint or a creative solution.

Digital

PROS

Digital publications can be low cost or even free. Unlike the cost of production and shipping for print materials, digital publications can be made and distributed usually for free. If you have a website, it’s easy to upload a publication and direct your readers right to it. Even using marketing automation platforms can be free. Mailchimp, for example, lets you send up to 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers per month at no cost.

You’re using less resources. Being a green company can be very attractive to some consumers. A sample study showed that one-third of the participants actually preferred a sustainable company. You may not be building an organic vegetable garden on your roof, but you can certainly reduce your carbon footprint by using less paper!

Change or update the file as much as you want. Sometimes mistakes happen, and longer publications are especially prone to errors. The beauty of digital publications is that you can often still make updates even after it has been distributed. Almost all major ebook retailers, for example, offer the option for you to re-upload your digital file so you can keep your information relevant and up to date.

CONS

Technology can potentially work against you. We’ve all seen a digital file that doesn’t look quite right. The letters are too close together, some colors are slightly off, and all of the images look just a little bit fuzzy. Changing technology and the slew of digital devices available can make it difficult (but not impossible) to ensure that your publication is displayed consistently all across the board.

Viewers just plain read less. How many articles do you read in a day on your phone? A dozen? Two dozen? And did you actually read them or did you just skim for the highlights? Collected data by Chartbeat shows that if you even made it this far reading this article that you’re doing better than most of my readers. The explanation why we skim can be attributed to reasons like tired eyes and being too busy. Despite the reasons, the fact is that viewers don’t retain as much information while reading digitally.

Getting viewers can be difficult. Sending content out into the digital realm can be a bit like screaming into space—only those on your radio channel can hear it. The statistics don’t lie, there are more than one billion websites online, and your average person receives almost 100 emails a day. That said, you don’t have to worry about competing against all of that. Nonetheless, you do have to do some work to make sure your content is solid and well-advertised to stand out.

Now that you’ve probably made your choice, all that’s left is to make that publication look really cool. Need some help or don’t know where to start? Publications are my favorite and my specialty! Talk to a graphic designer who knows how to make a publication that will get your readers engaged!