Offset Print and Digital Delivery Need to Work Together

When the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) was founded 150 years ago, the only method of “producing, protecting, preserving, and distributing documents” was in print. Today, with a multitude of electronic distribution methods widely available, this has changed. This change requires printers to have an understanding of the purpose of the document and the customer it serves.

The impact of high-speed Internet connectivity and mobile phone technologies on print is immense. In a society that values information and immediacy, the speed that digital delivery can provide is the main reason why print has become the secondary method of receiving information.

Digital delivery of content is now the primary method for some key reasons:

  • Quick access to content

  • Ease of searching

  • Inclusion of live hyperlinks and multimedia (i.e., sound/video)

  • Portability

  • Tight control of content (of particular appeal to publishers)

  • The ability to update as needed

Print, however, continues to have significant value as a content delivery method and has advantages of its own:

  • Permanence

  • No electronic device required to read it (and no concerns for electricity or battery life)

  • Easy ability to archive

  • Physical annotation

  • Paper is easy to recycle

  • Print does not require high-tech devices or monthly service plans

Overall, publishers and other content providers have seen how important electronic delivery is to their future. Publishers see how digital print and electronic delivery can be used in combination to create a “data warehouse” of documents that, for example, allows books to be delivered as orders are received.

Getting payment for content, however, presents its own challenges. The models for delivering and paying for content in the digital age are evolving and had a significant impact on the publishing market. It is only over the past two years or so that publishers have fully embraced the concept of selling e-books at list prices well below the print versions.

The above is taken from InfoTrends’ Transitioning to Digital: the Impact of Digital Print and Electronic Delivery on Offset Printing analysis. This report was created as background for Jim Hamilton’s testimony to the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on “GPO – Issues and Challenges: How Will GPO Transition to the Future?”. It features background and forecast information as well as challenges for the offset print industry. For more information, or to purchase this analysis, visit our online store or contact Robyn Wuori at (781) 616-2103 or