Tactile Experience Has Created a Resurgence in Print over Digital

Applying a unique coating to your magazine can take your brand from ordinary to extraordinary.

by Taylor Graham, marketing & sales coordinator, Royle Printing

Could you imagine your life today without any of your electronic devices? For the past decade, nearly everyone uses a smartphone, computer or tablet daily. Whether that’s to read up on the latest news, check your Facebook feed or post a picture to Instagram, we’ve become nearly dependent on our electronics. With the rise in use of devices increasing every year, it is believed to spell the certain doom for any printed media – or at least that’s what everyone assumes.

Today, marketing and advertising companies are utilizing both print and digital media. On average, when considering the “Print Is Not Dead” arguments, the conclusion is often that print media continue to be a trusted source of information.

According to a 2010 multi-country survey (from book research by American University’s linguistics professor Naomi Baron), 92 percent of 420 college students surveyed said they prefer reading in print over any form of electronic media. While online reading is great for interpersonal communications, respondents explain that a physical printed piece has fewer distractions than viewing materials online and results in less eye strain and headaches.

But the real question is why do people find print media a trusted source of information?

We already know the overabundance of information posted online has a short shelf life, making it easy for just about anyone to share some sort of story – factual or not.

“There is physicality in reading – maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading,” said developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University in a 2013 Scientific American article.

But if everyone just printed a bunch of magazines and newspapers, then does that automatically make it all true? Of course not – we have to dissect this even further. What is it about print media that digital just cannot replicate? The answer is the experience.

“The implicit feel of where you are in a physical book turns out to be more important than we realized,” said Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research Cambridge in England and co-author of The Myth of the Paperless Office. “Only when you get an e-book do you start to miss it. I don’t think e-book manufacturers have thought enough about how you might visualize where you are in a book.”

What many successful companies realize is that a printed piece of content is an extension of their brand. It should elicit an emotional experience for their reader that extends far beyond what’s typed on the page.

“It never runs out of battery and is likely to be picked up a couple of times,” said Christian Kallenberg from We Like Mags at the FIPP World Congress. “I asked my 12-year-old daughter why (she and her friends) spend their pocket money on Mädchen (a monthly German teen magazine), and she said ‘While it’s cool to flip back and forth, if you finish the magazine, you get the feeling you’re done.'”

Focus your company’s media strategy, as multi-faceted, multiple media are needed to fully reach your audience. From blog posts, social media accounts, a magazine, your website, etc. – they should all be consistent in delivering your brand.

So how do you begin to build this experience? It’s really where you get to be creative on how you’d like your readers to consume your content. Talking with your print provider is a great way to see what types of tactile coatings are available to you.

Applying a unique coating to your magazine can take your brand from ordinary to extraordinary. With daily lives dominated by touchscreens and keyboards, print provides a much-needed break away from the screen. Haptic research shows that it’s the physical nature of print that gives readers a sense of what they’re reading. Compared to the cluttered internet, this unmatched physical and tactile experience gives print a share hold of any company’s content strategy.

“When we read ink on paper, and we look for the narrative, it’s storytelling. When we go online, it’s presentation,” explained Daniel Dejan, print/creative manager of North American Sappi Fine Paper. “The term that’s being used is “Bi-lateral Literacy” and the fact that when presented with ink on paper, our heart rate goes down and our blood pressure goes down. We go back to reading the way we were taught when we were children. The beauty of that is it’s much more penetrating; it has a longer mnemonic retention. If it is done well, it’s very meaningful to us. We esteem it with added value; and in some cases can become a treasure.”

“The flip side is,” Dejan continued, “we either need something immediately, we want immediate gratification, or if we really need a deep understanding, or the decision we’re making is going to make a long-term value, we want it in print.”

In January 2013, Anne Mangen of the University of Stavanger in Norway and colleagues conducted a study with a class of tenth graders of similar reading ability to study one narrative and one expository text, each about 1,500 words long. The study evaluated the differences in reading retention between print and digital in young readers.

The report states: “Half the students read the texts on paper and half read them in pdf files on computers with 15-inch liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors. Afterwards, students completed reading-comprehension tests consisting of multiple-choice and short-answer questions, during which they had access to the texts. Students who read the texts on computers performed a little worse than students who read on paper.”

Mangen noted in her observations, “Students reading pdf files had a more difficult time finding particular information when referencing the texts. Readers on computers could only scroll or click through the pdfs one section at a time, whereas students reading on paper could hold the text in its entirety in their hands and quickly switch between different pages. Because of their easy navigability, paper books and documents may be better suited to absorption in a text.”

Taylor Graham is the marketing and sales coordinator at Royle Printing. Royle Printing, based in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, specializes in the production of magazines and catalogs. Royle received the “Best of the Best Workplace in the Americas” designation by Printing Industries of America. For more information, visit www.royle.com.