To the great relief of professionals the traditional publishing sector appears to be recovering. After several years of lean times, where its international revenue dropped from 165 billion to 145 billion dollars between 2011 and 2014, traditional publishing has revived its growth. A progression observed in the French market as well as on the other side of the Atlantic.

For a long while, it was considered inevitable that digital would replace traditional publishing, and several years of decline seemed to prove Cassandres right in his prediction of the book’s demise. Quite unexpectedly, however, this trend was reversed in 2015, and seems to be due to consumer habits.

French publishing registers growth of 2% in 2015

Readers love paper. They almost have a physical attachment to it. The touch and smell of paper is all part of the reading experience. Digital has become a complementary alternative, and not a substitute for the paper support. In 2016, the e-book is no longer a threat to the book; from now on the two supports will cohabit. Readers seem to have a “come and go” attitude in their respective usage of the two forms. This same trend has also been confirmed by professional publishing revues and paper advertising.

Expressed in figures, this market development can be observed in the French traditional book sector, which showed an increase in revenue of 2% in 2015. During the same period e-book sales stagnated. Even if 35% of Americans buy e-books compared to 10% in France, the sales of e-books in 2015 diminished for the first time by 12,7% in the USA.

Digital versus paper: the book war will not take place

This co-habitation can also be observed in the professional press sector. The circulations of company magazines and institutional reviews grow each year. At Havas, the company magazine sector is increasing annually by 10%, despite production costs.

Even in our era of social networks, these magazines continue to attract readers, thanks to the quality of their contents and the exactitude of their information. Not forgetting the fact that their contents, conveyed by intranet, are often construed as cold and impersonal.

A standoff has been established between the two universes, which otherwise could be thought of as diametrically opposed. Certainly, it is impossible to imagine the development of the traditional publishing sector on the fringe of the internet world. However, modern communication campaigns still take into account the credibility of traditional supports.

The paper support’s trust capital has never been supplanted

Studies show that paper advertising garners more attention than its digital equivalent (92% for postal advertising compared to 83% for emails). Despite the wealth of innovations deployed by programmatic advertising, the paper flyer continues to find a place in the sun with the reader, who still refers to it before surfing on web sites.

This also applies to digital publicity, such as information spread by intranet, the social networks, or even reading an e-book compared to a book. The paper support guarantees the digital support. Traditional publishing has not finished re-inventing itself. Irrespective of its application area, it can more than hold its own with digital supports, benefiting from emotional and trust capital never matched by internet. The proverb says it well: “Words may be forgotten, the written aspect lives on”. Traditional publishing has taken digital supports at their word.

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