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Submitted by NAV Insights on 13 January 2020

It's 2020 and Print is Far from Dead: Reflections on Where Print Has Taken Us and Where It's Going in the Next Decade

While doing my own reflecting on 2019 and as a new year and decade begin, and starting a new position back in the printing industry, I began thinking about where I started in print 25 years ago. I remembered how far I have come and the skills I’ve gained, and I began ruminating on how I will use and share this knowledge to positively change the world in the next decade.

I also reflected on my recent visit to Printer's Alley in Nashville, seeing how quickly a place can change from a hot-off-the-presses area to hit-the-nightlife place in less than a century! It got me thinking about the history of print, how far it has come in truly so little time, as well as what exciting thing is next and how Print will again transform the world we live in.

I am in amazement looking back to the first mass-produced book, the Gutenburg Bible, in 1455. Even though there were some before this, Gutenburg was able to create a process to do this inexpensively and quickly. It took three years to print 200 copies! It might not sound like it now, but this was a massive increase in turn time, and it marked the beginning of being able to share knowledge further and faster: news, history, religion, science, and ideas. Even though only a few could read at the time, those who had the ability would hold public readings as the world was becoming more and more literate.

In less than 600 years, we can produce that same length book in minutes, bound and ready to ship. With the internet, the same information can be accessed in seconds! And according to UNESCO, the global literacy rate for all people aged 15 and above is 86% and growing every year. All this started with an idea and one step forward at a time.

What's the next big disruption? The next shift for the print? Make no mistake, print is not dead! It's just an infant growing up and changing into new forms. New printing technologies are being developed to allow printing on almost any surface anywhere, highly customizable and affordable short runs that also support entrepreneurship, new substrates which haven't even been invented yet, pursuits to further support sustainable packaging, and let's not forget 3D printing - the sky is the limit!

I, for one, am excited to be a part of it and witness the changes as the world fuses technology with the printed piece, finding new ways of doing things faster, more profitably, and with ever increasing quality and creativity.

Happy and Safe New Year to all! Here’s to positive changes and shifts in your own lives as we enter 2020!

Share your thoughts on how you think print will be used in this decade in the comments below.

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