Hardcover book resting on a laptop

Countless businesses have fumbled amid sweeping changes in the media landscape. In an era where social media and blogs have become perfectly serviceable ad platforms and news sources, the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that the death of print media is nigh. As countless outlets, like Newsweek and Borders, floundered or outright sank, many want to fault ‘mounting irrelevance’ of print media and long-form content as the reason for their poor performance, but this assessment has simply proven null. (For the uninitiated, long-form content is defined as thoughtful, involved content – i.e. books, long articles, anything that isn’t vapid internet clickbait.)

Take for example, the media’s sage granddad – The New York Times – who has been contending with massive shifts and snags as the media landscape evolves, reflected in how it sources company revenue. But, if the numbers are anything to go by, print media and thoughtful long-form content are not going anywhere – and remain powerful revenue generators. True, the Times’ ad revenue is now the terrain of both print and digital, whereas it was once just print. Revenue from its print circulation, however, now generates a whopping 42% of the publication’s total revenue, a figure that is actually up from 23% in 2000.

Could we infer, perhaps, that the proliferation of digital content has imbued a traditional, hard copy of the New York Times with a kind of occult charm? Not only for the sake of the hard copy, but for the quality, consideration, and length of the content one finds there? Perhaps it is something the noisy and unfiltered world of short-form internet content can’t readily offer.

That being said, a New York Times article is the same, verbatim, in print and online. The content of a book is the same between an e-reader and a physical book. The distinction between print and digital of course does not preclude some degree of overlap. But as commentators have heralded the supposed “death of print media” and the overwhelming rise of short-form, digitized content, it becomes easy to interpret this as the outright death of publishing itself, or, the death of long-form content and its place in the media sphere.


Battling Popcorn Brain – Will Short Attention Spans Kill Long-form?

The Times once again serving as an example: the news company has built its reputation on providing lengthy stories rich with insight. It has visibly struggled to find its footing in a clickbait era, wherein superficial content can easily thrive and generate profit. Meaningful, cogent content will struggle – if it does not firmly grasp the ever-shrinking attention span of digital media consumers. Researchers have coined a name for that phenomenon – it’s popcorn brain. The result of a fast-moving, short-attention-spanned, app-switching culture. Therefore, the real question is not, “Will print survive in the digital era?” rather, “Will books and long-form content continue to be profitable, as our attention spans grow shorter?”

May we be so bold as to answer this with an emphatic ‘Yes.’

The internet may have transformed the way content is consumed, but long-form and print media certainly aren’t going anywhere, if only because they remain the most impactful and reliable sources of information out there.

In short, we are decisively not headed toward a fully digitized, short-form content world in which books and dense content have no clout. After the prophecies of doom for print that began swirling in the adolescence of the century, there appears to have been a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the medium. Once marked for dead, print seems to be resurging on account of the newfound voracious appetite for long, rich, hard-copy content – particularly, books.


The Power of Publishing 

If you have considered publishing a book in your field, thereby adding ‘published author’ to your professional repertoire, rest assured long-form print media remains one of the most forceful ways to broadcast your voice across your industry. Those who exclusively touch leads by posting internet/social media/short-form content, without publishing a hard-copy book, miss an extraordinary opportunity to establish themselves as the authority in their field and grow their businesses. Take our authority assessment now to see how you rank as an authority in your field, and contact us to learn more about why a published book is the indisputable next step in growing your business.  

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