This Christmas many people in the publishing community were to be heard uttering the question ‘is print back’? With year-on-year e-book sales falling in 2013 and printed books continuing to outsell e-books throughout 2014 - despite proclamations in the industry that this was the year the tables would turn (an estimate now shunted to 2018) – the more appropriate question might be whether it really ever, or ever will, go away?
Future predictions seem largely based on the number of people owning an i-pad/kindle/digital reading platform by that date, rather than on whether people actually enjoy reading from a screen – and if my fellow London-commuters are anything to go by, print seems to be far from dead.
The magazine and newspaper industries are somewhat harder to gauge but while mainstream newspapers may be facing trouble, funding platforms such as kickstarter have given rise to a wave of new local print which seem to be going from strength to strength.
The Peckham Peculiar, branded as a hyperlocal paper for Peckham and Nunhead in South East London, launched successfully a year ago thanks to the backing of 150 pledgers on Kickstarter, which the editors believed showed that people still value the printed word. The paper is currently printed 6 times a year with a print run of 8,000 and is stocked in local businesses as well as handed out at local train stations. The editors strongly believe that news isn’t just for the internet and see social media as an accompaniment to rather than replacement of the printed version.
Another London start-up, The Luddite, has chosen to eschew the digital altogether. With the tagline – ‘because life is analogue’, it’s a letterpress-printed magazine with a focus on telling the real human stories that get glossed over in our digital age. The brainchild of publishers Matt Davis and Louise Armstrong, the idea emerged from a chance meeting in a South East London pub. Armstrong said:
“Between us we’ve spent 40 years on the Internet and whilst we both earn our living using pixels, we wanted to slow things down and create a place to explore some of the implications, both positive and negative of our increasing reliance on modern technology”
The pair have created a beautifully handcrafted 8 page magazine with the help of Hand & Eye Letterpress manager Phil Abel and illustrators Hannah Simpson and Chris Brown who use a mixture of lino, wood and zinc cut work.
Armstrong feels that we could question what’s going on with technology and whether all the paths it is leading us down are the right ones. She feels that a return to basics in certain things can help us to evaluate this by giving people the time to stop and think.
The Luddite certainly does that, with stories from issue 1 including that of a midwife looking at how the increasing addiction to smart phones and social media posts is interfering with those precious bonding moments between new parents and their babies…
Certainly food for thought.
The Luddite is printed quarterly and is available in London at the Lois gallery in Peckham (http://www.lois.me.uk/), Material gallery (http://www.materialmaterial.com/) in Shoreditch as well as other local businesses.