May people ask me as a designer if I ever think print will die. First I respond with laughter, because I often think it a rather stupid question. Then I proceed to say “I certainly hope not…”
Paperless has become quite a trend. People often think that we’ll be entirely paperless by some distant point in the future in order to save millions of trees and deforestation of rain forests etc. Their biggest advocate? The eBook. Why? Because there isn’t any paper pages, and often they’re cheaper to purchase. A pretty solid argument right? Perhaps… if you don’t live in a third world country.
There has been a big push for literacy in the world as a step towards solving poverty. It’s a great start I think, and a very noble task. People need to learn how to read as a means of making it through this life and becoming a “successful and functional member of society” (I’d love to hear someone tell an African Tribe leader that, they’d probably end up disgraced and kicked out of the village, or even worse in some cultures). Written language certainly can open many doors, but if we’re making the striving to build up the economic world using literature, we’d have to make it accessible to everyone. Now tell me, how many isolated tribes in the rainforest have pluming and electricity? Probably none of them huh?
What I’m getting at is this: eBooks are not all accessible. Not everyone in the world has internet. Not everyone in the world even has basic necessities for that matter. So why are we so convinced that going paperless is a real option for the whole world? Perhaps for more developed nations it can be a reality, but that would also cause the problem of increasing the poverty gap, and perhaps even possibly make poverty a bigger problem…or worse…cause us to take extreme measures destroying cultures by bringing in a very western and commercial line of thinking.
There is this great documentary on PBS about the development of nations based on the question “Why are some countries more developed than others?” It’s called Guns, Germs, and Steel based on a book by William McNeill and if you’re interested in the subject I recommend you find it or perhaps download it somewhere and watch it. It’s quite fascinating if you’re a history buff. It’s good stuff and talks about some of the issues of poverty and resources in certain nations, and how they developed into power houses and third worlds.
I do not think print will ever die. Printed books are easier to get to the masses that digital ones for the reasons I said above, and so many others as well. Paper is used in so much more than printed work, poster, fliers and pamphlets. It’s a practical resource.
If you need more convincing…then watch the video below.