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The Value of Print Keeps Going

The Value of Print Keeps Going, guest post by Sandy Lender

As a traditionally published author, I’ve heard countless readers tell me they prefer reading on a kindle instead of “dead tree books.” Then I hear other readers go on at length about the scent of a “real book” that they can hold in their hands and keep forever. Both have their merits, of course. But one has a misconception that needs to be corrected.
The research group Print Grows Trees reports: “The primary raw material for paper is trees, which are a renewable resource. The trees in North America used for paper production come from well-managed forests or farms.” AF&PA has a hard fact: “Today the U.S. has 20% more trees than it did on the first Earth Day.” That means there are more trees around today than there were the year I was born. This author hasn’t made as big a dent in the oxygen supply as previously believed…
How can this information be applied to the way authors reach our readers?
Of course we can find new readers online. It’s like a hunting expedition, though. You see, readers aren’t googling your name…because they don’t know it. It’s common sense, really. International Communications Research reported staggering data from a survey it conducted to put it into perspective. “73% of consumers prefer mail [U.S.P.S.] for receiving new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with as compared to 18% from email.” In other words, if you receive Poets & Writers magazine or Writer’s Digest, you are more likely to respond favorably to new writing software or writer’s retreat announcements in those publications than you are to direct emails from software and MFA program marketing directors. Research by Mail Print reported: “40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving” the news in the mail.
Pitney Bowes also conducted a survey along these lines to learn: “76% of small businesses state that their ideal marketing mix is a combination of print and digital communications.” A combo makes sense, doesn’t it? Think about it: how does a person know to look you up, to research you as an author, to check out the genre in which you write, if that person has never heard of you? You have to get in front of that person. According to iProspect Offline Channel Influence, “67% of online searches are driven by offline messages, with 39% of shoppers making a purchase.” That stat is significant.
Think on it for a minute. More than half of consumers don’t research a product until they learn of it offline—in print or on the radio. Then 39% of them are likely to buy.
Yes, we want to mix it up to reach new readers, because they’re mixing it up. According to a set of Media Usage Studies by Readex Research, 77% of professionals regularly use search engines. But 74% of those same professionals rely on print editions of magazines. They further mix it up when 74% of them depend on e-newsletters related directly to their industries. Look, we authors have different avenues to get in front of readers, but we can’t pretend that print is a dead end.
Let me throw a series of facts at you:
We’re not talking about non-profit here, although we authors often feel that we are, but “79% of total nonprofit gifts come through direct mail; only 10% online.” (Source: Blackbaud)
Shoppers who receive a print piece directing them to an online site spend an average of 13% more than those who don’t get the printed piece. (Source: U.S.P.S.)
60% of merchants surveyed said that catalogs are their primary sales channel; websites came in second at 20%. (Source: DMA Study)
41% of Americans shop using both catalogs and Internet. (Source: U.S.P.S.)
70% of Americans (this included 69% of 18- to 24-year-olds) state they “prefer to read print and paper communications, rather than reading off a screen.” (Source: Two Sides)
There are almost 187 million magazine-reading adults in the U.S. 46% interact with their faves exclusively in print. (Source: Affinity’s American Magazine Study)
Fantasy enthusiasts will recognize Sandy Lender as the author of the breakout novel Choices Meant for Gods and a leader of workshops on world-building and characterization. Her four-year degree in English and 23-year career in magazine publishing augment her book publishing experience for a variety of presentations.

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