Print’s Not Dead. It’s Just Being Reincarnated.
Zoella, Airbnb, Kim Kardashian — Junior Editor Tabi Jackson Gee looks at the changing world of print.
Nearly 100 years ago, a publishing house scared the crap out of the established order by starting to sell mass-produced paperbacks, for sixpence.
Yesterday, that same publishing house, Penguin, released a debut novel by a young girl who, along with her contemporaries, is disrupting the publishing industry yet again.
Although Zoella, as that young girl is known to her 6.2 million YouTube subscribers, (fun fact — that’s more than Beyonce has) isn’t actually a threat to anyone.
Then, as now, people and businesses continue to find new ways to reach audiences and new ways to engage with them. Whether that’s through the subscribe button on a YouTube channel, or a £5 hardback released just in time for Christmas — one doesn’t take away from the other — it compliments it. Just as traffic will increase to Zoella’s YouTube channel, so bookshops (or, at least, Amazon) will see bigger footfall and new customers.
Because print isn’t dead, digital brands are just finding new ways to use it -to give people a different, tactile experience that lasts beyond a 3 minute video.
Look at Airbnb — the poster kid of the digital world — who have just announced they will be releasing a print magazine. 18,000 copies of this magazine will be written by freelancers and distributed — free — to hosts around the world. It’s a way of saying thank you, and…. of increasing engagement. Or, as Airbnb put it, “to explore our fundamental values: sharing, community and belonging.”
They’re following in the footsteps of Net-a-Porter, who released their own magazine earlier this year. They’re both brands that have been able to find audiences online, then used print as a way to increase engagement — IRL.
The internet is a testing ground for content, and the real world is its oyster.
Everyone’s at it. Earlier this year socialite turned self-made reality TV star turned American Icon Kim Kardashian announced that she’s publishing a book of selfies; ‘Kim Kardashian Selfish’. The lady who quite literally embodies (in one part of her body in particular…) the digital age is regurgitating herself into the laps of her fans… People love her. She knows that. Now she’s using whatever way; TV, Twitter, Instagram, a book — to continue getting into their homes.
And, of course, there was IKEA’s satirical ‘Experience the power of a bookbook.’ To remind people of the long-lasting battery life and high quality of a ‘bookbook’ catalogue. For a brand that puts high value in its in-store experience, this was perhaps not that unexpected — but its still symptomatic of a time when people value those experiences over the format they come in.
Because whether you’re experiencing that content through a sixpence paperback, a 30 second YouTube video or a high quality hardback, you’ll remember what was in it and how it made you feel, far more than what format it came in. Because content and experiences are made up of stories and ideas, that are thought up by people…and that’s what audiences will always exchange either their time, or their money, to see.
And, you can’t use a YouTube video as a stocking filler.
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