Print plays an ever-important role in a digitally-minded society. It informs, entertains and connects, but at the same time, it helps us to unplug from the rest of the world.

Here are 10 reasons why print thrives:

1. Print is alive

Print is not dead. It's different. In this age of digital-everything, print still has the power to reach people in a way that no other medium can. It's tried and tested. And it works. It was a few years ago but I still remember seeing a printed insert from Takealot, South Africa's online retailer. Clearly, print is memorable too.

Experts will tell you that print alone cannot make a marketer; it requires an integrated, cross-platform approach. But print goes beyond marketing and media. It has many purposes — some hidden in plain sight and many that we take for granted.

2. Print informs

An example of this would be when buying medicine. It is more convenient to read the leaflet for dosage instructions and side effects then it is to search on the Internet, where there are thousands of entries. 

Thanks to print that is conveniently on the box, label and product leaflet, you are quickly informed about the dosage and potential side effects. Print empowers you as a consumer — by reading the 'fine print', you can make purchases with discernment.

3. Print unplugs

We live in an always-on, device-driven era. While the world is at our fingertips, we are also at arm's length from anyone and anything that demands our time and attention.

New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo has shared how he 'slow-jammed' the news for two months. He switched off digital news notifications, logged out of Twitter and other social networks and subscribed to three print newspapers, his local paper and a weekly news magazine.

The result, according to Manjoo, was 'life-changing'. He says that it reduced his anxiety. He was less addicted to news and boasted more time on his hands. "Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins," said Manjoo. 

4. Print is reliable

These "half-baked bulletins" — along with false and fake news — are exacerbated by social media and the rise of citizen journalism. A study by three MIT scholars found that false news spreads faster on Twitter than true stories do.

And it's humans — not bots — who are the culprits. We like to retweet and share with abandon, often with little thought to the veracity of the content. Print news brings with it authority and integrity. News might break on Twitter, but it's only considered verified once it is in black ink on a white page — or at the very least, published on a reputable news site.

5. Print pervades

Even though they are not as strong as before, newspapers are still here. Magazines still greet us as we push our trolleys to the tills. Have you walked into a bookstore recently?

Admit it, you enjoy print. In a 2019 survey of 1 070 United Kingdom adults, 64% agreed reading a printed book is more enjoyable than reading a book on an e-device. Younger generations are even described as the page-turners of modern-day. There is little else that compares to the joy of seeing one's child relish a book.

6. Print grows young minds

Early childhood development specialists will tell you that early contact with books teaches children to respect and care for them, while physical contact with a book — turning the pages — creates engagement.

International children's author Julia Donaldson refused an e-book version of her most famous title, The Gruffalo, according to a 2011 article in the Guardian. "The publishers showed me an e-book of Alice in Wonderland," Donaldson says.

"They said, 'Look, you can press buttons and do this and that', and they showed me the page where Alice's neck gets longer," Donaldson says. "There's a button the child can press to make the neck stretch, and I thought, well if the child's doing that, they are not going to be listening or reading."

Reading with engagement contributes towards auditory, sequencing and memory skills in little people. Importantly, it inspires a love of reading.

7. Print connects

While the Internet has enabled us to share on social media and instant messaging, it has also taken away that excitement of opening the postbox to find something other than the electricity bill.

8. Print is green

Digital communication is often greenwashed. It's touted as better for the environment. It 'saves trees'. No, it does not. In South Africa, paper, timber and cellulose products come from sustainably managed plantations. Trees are not 'killed' to make paper — they are harvested and replanted.

Simply put, they are a crop — much like the grain in your breakfast cereal this morning. With only a small portion harvested annually and then replanted in the same year, paper and wood products are a renewable resource.

Wood — and by extension paper — is a carbon storage mechanism. It locks up the carbon, absorbed as carbon dioxide by the tree. The carbon would only be released if the paper decays or is incinerated.

Paper is also recyclable and widely recycled around the world. By recycling paper, we are able to keep those carbon atoms locked up for longer! 

While mobile phones and digital communication bring convenience and connectivity, they also consume energy. Our multi-megabyte emails, WhatsApps and tweets travelling through the ether all have a carbon footprint — we just don't see it.

9. Print is personalised

Executed well, print and paper can cut through the clutter. There are no pop-up ads. It is safe, personal and tangible.

10. Print has tenacity

It has survived for centuries and it is not going to die anytime soon. Thank Gutenburg.

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While naysayers have been predicting the death of print for about as long as anyone can remember, many brands saw the potential it had to offer their high-quality goods — and embraced it. Read more in our article, Print versus digital: Print becomes ‘premium’.