Print is dead, long live Print!
When people ask me for my opinion as a bookbinder, my answer is that the printed word is still more reliable than a podcast. I am not a denier of modern media, I enjoy any progress that makes our everyday life or work easier. In fact I coded this website and love to draw digital art. Nevertheless, to me the aesthetics of a new, bound book is undisputed.
The smell, the haptics, it is pure joy to hold a book in your hands. Besides the beauty of a book, I always reaffirm the saying “paper is patient”. A hard disk drive gets broken quite fast, without any warnings in most cases and all information is lost within a second. Of course, paper as a medium is not indestructible either. Fire, water, light, dust, and rust destroy printed information just as quickly. With the small difference that we have a little time before that happens, we usually see the catastrophe coming before the work is destroyed. We have a chance to prevent that at least. Plus a sheet of paper is a private space. You can lock it away if you like to. No Hacker is able to get that information.
Is print actually dead? My answer to that question is no. I personally think that it will become quite expensive for us to own books in the future. Time will tell how mankind will develop information management and maintenance though. There is a chance, that the low-cost mass production of the 20th century, when the demand has ceased, that production of printed matters will continue to decrease and a book will once again become a luxury good, just as it used to be before industrialization. Some kind of bookbinder’s renaissance? Maybe. But definitely different.
What does a designer do with a bookbinder degree? Consulting.
Every paper has certain characteristics. These are required differently in offset and digital printing to achieve an optimal result. However, my expertise can also be difficult when I am on the phone with online printing services and the person on the other end does not understand my technical jargon. Only patience and short explanations can help. This is rarely the case, but it has happened.
Many young designer have a certain fear of finalizing artwork and files for print. This fear would be unfounded if they were to deal with the production. And by production, I don’t mean the common copy shop that uses stopwatches to drive its employees crazy because it sets prices far too low.
A final artwork requires attention to detail, time, and knowledge of the legal requirements. Not every company can afford this, and that will probably not change in the near future. Print could become something more exclusive than it ever was.
What about the environmental aspects?
Recycling has also been an important topic in the bookbinder training and in Design school. I personally welcome the overall reduction of unnecessary trade journals and junk sheets. Websites and social media are the new magazines. Of course a huge loss for the publishing houses, but no reason to panic. Back to high quality instead of quantity. The environmental aspect is also interesting because the computer, which consists of some very toxic parts, like lead, cadmium, mercury, and chromium, is supposed to be the unbreakable argument against using paper in some cases. Some trees need 30 years and a lot of water before they can become paper. But there is also an alternative here: bamboo. This plant, which belongs to the Poaceae family, needs the same amount of water. It grows much faster than a tree. The same plantation provides many times more of what our forests provide. The quality of bamboo is also attractive. The fibers are long and the paper is plenty of times recyclable. Bamboo-Paper is eco-friendly and a pleasure to use for drawing.
Dear publishing houses. “We never did this before” are quotes that bring out the “bankruptcy buzz”. Krah! 😉
Have a beautiful day, thanks for reading my journal!
“Cueva de las Manos”
Argentinian cave painting
Clayboards and Tablets
Cyperus Papyrus scrolls
Europe’s first Paper Mill
water-driven, in Xàtiva (Spain)
(1605 First german Newspaper printed.)
Computer & Tablet
First Computer developed 1946,
First steps to tablets 1970s.