Une tradition d'excellence

May 2017

Print is dead . . . you’re still making books?

Print is dead . . . you’re still making books?

As soon as I mention that my company makes books, I always get the same reaction – print is dead. It’s a wide-spread belief in today’s society, strongly supported by the media. It’s so easy to say that we no longer have need of printed products, because everything happens online now. However, the reality is completely different – print is just taking a different place in our lives. There are approximately 50,000 people working in the print industry in Canada. This number has been decreasing over the last 10 years, but has stabilized due to the many mergers and closures of under-performing printers. In fact, printers of today operate at speeds unthinkable of 15 or 20 years ago, while significantly reducing prices, production delays, and staffing requirements.

To many people, printing is synonymous with newspapers, books, and business cards.

We can follow the evolution and growing presence of printed products from the beginning of the century. Some items available now that were not seen before the advent of the digital age include printed cans that display the temperature of the beer inside them, completely personalized commercial entranceway mats and windows, full-colour books printed in small quantities right down to even just a single copy, labels on everything, ultra-specialized magazines aimed at small niche audiences, banners and items at all points of sale, clothes and fabrics with high-quality printed patterns, containers of all shapes and materials printed with full colour and images, statements and invoices entirely personalized for the recipient, catalogues based on your shopping habits, not to mention 3D printing, etc. Despite what the media may suggest, the printed book is still here. Yes, digital is here to stay, but its growth has markedly slowed in recent years. The negative environmental aspect concerning printed books has diminished as people understand more and more that print can be 100% recycled and 100% recyclable, which is far from the case with our electronic devices.

What matters with printing is the relevance of the product.

It wasn’t so long ago that to reduce the unit cost of a product and make it accessible to everyone, it had to be printed in large quantities. That’s no longer necessary; we can print the right quantity at the right time at the right price – the situation has completely changed. We just have to think back to the 1980s, when a colour separation of an 8×10” photo could cost up to $100.00. Just imagine the cost then for a Sears catalogue! Over the past several years, this step has been completely eliminated, as have many other prepress production stages. In short, when I have more than 5 minutes to talk about my line of business, my audience can better understand what printing actually is. A visit to our facilities or to those of a modern printer always creates the same impact. Visitors are blown away by the technology of the equipment, the cleanliness of the premises, and the quality of the finished products. It’s a far cry from the times when a press operator had to have one car only for work and another car for the weekends…. What still remains today is the need to communicate, in which print still plays a role in that, as do the web, radio, television, and everything else that will be invented in the years to come!