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PrintAction - 1415
Media Agility
PRINTACTION ­ March 2004
consumption activities in order to feed his or her
media habit. In the Veronis, Suhler study, the
researchers presuppose that their audiences will find
nearly 100 extra hours per month to devote to inter-
net and magazines. Will they sleep less? Work less?
Spend less time with their families? It's a generous
assumption that may not bear out. Increased time
spent online is more likely to cannibalize existing
media consumption rather leave it untouched. That
has certainly been the impact on me.
Another sector I've examined is newspaper pub-
lishing. One study reported on responses to the
simple question "Did you read a newspaper yester-
day?" In 1961, 80 per cent of adults answered yes.
By 1999 that figure had dropped to 58 per cent of
A 2000 study from the NAA (Newspaper
Association of America) and GAMIS (Graphic Arts
Marketing Information Service) shows that the trend
is continuing, and that circulation volume (overall)
has dropped by 10 per cent from 1974 to 1999.
More troubling is the indication that youth
demographics are going to play an increasing role
in the ongoing decline in newspaper
readership. A recent study from the
Audit Bureau of Circulations indi-
cates that while some 58 per cent of
adults continue to read a daily news-
paper, that number dropped below
45 per cent for younger adults aged
18 to 34 years.
Another study, a 2000 Research
Report commissioned by the
Newspaper Association of America
called Leveraging Newspaper Assets:
A Study of Changing American
Media Usage Habits
, well illustrates
the demographic disparities. Sixty-
six per cent of adults aged 65 or
older still read a daily paper. Only 24
per cent of the 18 to 24 year olds do
so. Similarly, only seven per cent of
the 65 or older group turn to the
internet for news, 23 per cent of the
18 to 34 year olds do so, more than
three times the number. (I'll consid-
er this in more detail below.)
The book publishing industry is
facing similar challenges. A study conducted by the
Book Industry Study Group indicated that in 1998,
for the first time since the group began its studies,
consumers purchased fewer books than they did in
the year prior.
A 2003 report from the Book Industry Study
Group shows that what sales growth will be found
in book publishing will largely be from price
increases. As the chart below indicates, unit sales
are flat to falling.
Scenarios for
the future
Trying to predict the
future of printing and
publishing is as chal-
lenging as trying to pre-
dict the future of any
sector of the U.S. or
Canadian economy. The
factors that will deter-
mine the future viability
of print include forces as
disparate as politics, the environment, technologi-
cal developments, economic developments and the
broader changes in our society.
The political situation in the U.S. and Canada
appears relatively stable, or at least unlikely to
change in a way that would impact media con-
sumption habits.
After laying low for the last decade, environmen-
tal considerations may once again have an impact.
Most of us recall the period in the 1960s and '70s
where increasing perceptions of a fragile environ-
ment led many people to push for a reduction in
consumption of all-natural resources, including sil-
ver-halide film, pulp and paper. However, the boom
economics of the 1990s and a decrease in the rate of
environmental deterioration has led us to a point
where people are comfortable again assuming that
the environment we enjoy today will be with us
always. It's an optimistic assumption and a reinvig-
oration of environmental concerns is one factor
that may encourage a reduction in film and paper
usage in the years to come. Don Carli, in particular,
has been pioneering his The Greening of Print, a
research project investigating environmentally
preferable procurement and production of printing
and packaging in North America.
Companies like Hewlett-Packard and Xerox
promulgate claims that much of what is printed
today will shift to small office and home printers,
and that the numbers of pages printed will in fact
increase because of this shift. However, advances in
resolution/readability on monitors, as well as
improvements in handheld and wireless comput-
ing, make on-screen reading an increasingly viable
option, even for older users. Over the next two or
three years, the trend toward locally printed output
will begin to reverse.
As always large questions surround the economy.
While anxieties have increased this year, the general
mood is that happy days are here again. But with
enormous uncertainties in the world geopolitical
scene, and tremendous imbalances in consumer
saving and consumer spending, a healthy economy
cannot be called a slam-dunk.
An examination of our society and the strange
forces within it leads to some revealing indications
that are certain to impact the future of media adop-
tion and hence the future of print publishing. A
report prepared by the Newspaper Association of
America looks at market media trends in four dif-
ferent categories of media. Three of the four cate-
gories show general and steady decline in the peri-
od under examination, from 1996 to 1999. Those
three are daily newspapers, TV primetime viewing,
and the radio morning drive. Only cable television
viewing shows an increase.
This is indicative of the broader trends in our
society among consumers of various media. The
trend is away from so-called advertising-supported
media toward consumer-supported media (CSM).
Advertising-supported media, as the name sug-
gests, is media paid for by mass-market advertisers
­ broadcast television, radio, daily newspapers, and
consumer magazines. Consumer-supported media,
on the other hand, is largely paid for on a per-usage
basis. Consumer-supported media includes cable
television, recorded music, books, home video,
video games and the internet.
Another study, this also by Veronis, Suhler and
Source: NAPL
Print Sales
1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
Print: 4.6%
Print: 2.2%
Print: 1.5%
Print: -2.4%
2000: 2.5%
2001: -4.0%
2002: -3.8%
2003: 0.7%
GRAPH 1: Percent change in print sales adjusted for price change. Change
is over the same quarter of the previous year. Figure for 2003 is through
September only. All figures are NAPL estimates.
-7.3% -7.1%
The Entertainment Software
Association (ESA) finds that
50 per cent of all Americans
age six and older play computer
and video games. The average
age of a game player is 29
years old. Thirty-nine per cent
of game players are women. The
gaming software industry is now
competitive with the Hollywood
film industry. According to the
Digital Entertainment Group, in
2003 consumers spent $22.5
billion renting and buying DVD
and VHS versus the $9.2 billion
moviegoers spent at the
theatrical box office. Other
analyses put video game sales
ahead of the Hollywood box

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