04 September 2017 Analogue Printing Technologies

Requiem for a stalwart of print

The demise of the printed Yellow Pages is no surprise. The once hefty directory, delivered to every household in the country, has gone the way of the rotary dial phone handset. Many years ago Yellow Pages led the way in computerised typesetting and page make up thanks to pioneering work at PindarSet. Today there is as much computing power in a smart phone as was needed to typeset Yellow Pages. Times have changed.

Quite simply print is no longer the channel for directory type information. Simple queries are answered by the internet, even the whereabouts of a book called Fly Fishing by JR Hartley. And the same evolution has happened for other one-time print fixtures. And will continue to happen where what print did can be done better digitally. Many items that printers depended upon only used print because there was no alternative.

This leaves print to find products where there is no alternative, or where the value that print conveys is better than the digital alternative. A case is in books where despite the existence of e-readers like the Kindle, people prefer to buy and read physical books rather than downloaded words on a screen. Book readers prefer to let their fingers do the walking rather than the cursor of mouse. Print is at its best when users enjoy the experience of holding, smelling and interacting with the book or other product. Print is still better at promoting engagement, evoking emotions and triggering multiple senses than digital. Long may it remain so.

Gareth Ward

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