Une tradition d'excellence

December 2015


It’s been over 5 years since Steve Jobs launched the iPad on January 27, 2010, and Apple’s gadget has since caused the word “e-reader” to become mainstream.

There were indeed electronic readers well before the appearance of the iPad, but Apple’s impact on the market was immediate. Although the iPad is not the best e-reader, Apple has taken over this segment of the market.

The days of printed books and magazines seemed to be numbered… however, here we are today with a strong print industry. Obviously sales of printed books and magazines have declined, but not enough to make this segment of the market unprofitable.

”The production costs of a book or magazine have drastically decreased over the past 20 years.”

As a bindery, we work with several printers specializing in publishing. Over the past years, there have been mergers and several investments in new equipment. This is a sure sign that all bets are for stable sales volumes, perhaps even growth.

The production costs of a book or magazine have drastically decreased over the past 20 years. There is no longer scanning, negative mounting, or press set-ups lasting for hours; page layout is more automated, and press and bindery speeds have more than tripled!

 ”The print book requires an investment of time and money, which
greatly eliminates sloppy publications.”

Print runs have decreased considerably, but the number of titles appearing has rapidly increased. There is a magazine for every niche and a book for every subject. As opposed to any blog, a print book gives a great deal of credibility to the author. To write a blog (which I’m doing here!), there is no worry about financial risk since there is no money involved. In contrast, the print book requires an investment of time and money, which greatly eliminates sloppy publications.

Even though the production costs have drastically decreased, print still remains an investment. The author of a book will be identified with that book for many years, which is not the case with ephemeral blogs.

What about the e-book?

The e-book does have a place in the world of publishing, but tops out at between 10 – 20% of publishers’ sales and more weakly in terms of profitability. The electronic book is an additional support to the distribution of a book. First we had hardcover and softcover printed formats, and then the mass-market (pocket) format was added. And now here is the tablet version shaking up these three formats, but without completely replacing any of them.

Print books and magazines are appreciated as objects. Readers often recall the smell of the paper, the pleasure of flipping through volumes, or the ease to share favourite works, besides the ability to write in the margins, highlight passages, cut out articles, and fold down the corners of pages to mark them. In brief, the printed object is a thing to be enjoyed.

There is also the quality, which is incomparable. If you have the opportunity to examine a magazine from the 1990s, you will notice a huge difference in the quality of printing, the number of images, the quality of the paper, and the precision of the binding. It’s undeniable; progress is remarkable!

Finally, there is the environmental impact. It is becoming better understood that paper is a both a recycled and recyclable product, made from wood which is a renewable natural resource. The mountains of electronic gadgets are not, and they have not stopped accumulating with the never-ending shortened cycles of obsolescence.

In summary, there is not one format that is better than the other, but instead a format that adapts to the type of readers that we are.

Long live the book in all its forms, since it is thanks to this invention that we have been able to share our knowledge with each other.