Why physical print is important in a digital world

Why physical print is important in a digital world 

By Erwin Busselot, Business Innovations & Solutions Director, Graphic Communications Group at Ricoh Europe

Often in films, there are key scenes when we see a box discovered in an attic, dusted off, tentatively opened, and printed items carefully removed as important life moments are remembered. Tickets to a sports event, programmes, photographs, records in their sleeves, books, etc… All printed reminders.

We live in an increasingly digital world and so these physical, revisitable, and memorable touchpoints are becoming fewer and fewer. Increasingly things are being stored electronically from music, photos, and books to receipts, tickets, and invitations. In our daily lives, QR codes, e-tickets, and online libraries are replacing concert tickets, hardcopy images, and tangible album artwork.

Printed items from past activities, events, achievements, celebrations and holidays have the power to generate the happy spirit of the moment with feelings and memories. The Japanese call that natsukashii.

Printed applications can also physically engage our basic senses. We see and smell them. We hear the sound of turning pages and opening envelopes. We explore them with touch, a sense that is so primal that it develops even before we are born.

Other than the choice of substrate, our physical experience of print can be enhanced by:

– A matte or glossy feel added by an optional Matte Fuser digital colour sheetfed presses or a coating that creates different thicknesses and achieves a variety of high impact effects.

– An attention grabbing luxurious look using gold and silver toners, where metallics can transform catalogues, posters, flyers, direct mail, brochures, tickets, invitations, certificates, business, greetings, and Christmas cards, as well as packaging.

As a medium, physical print is also more memorable and trusted than digital storage and communication, and it has a greater power to persuade.

It can help stimulate memories for those with dementia, too. Sharing recognisable images is known as reminiscence therapy and it helps prompt brain activity to generate memories and connections to events, places, and people in their lives.

Do we ever pause to reflect on the incredible, latent power of print? Maybe not as often as we should. Natsukashii (positive memories that can be enjoyed time and again) is a concept we should all be aware of and celebrate; it offers us a word to represent one of print’s special capabilities. And describes something that is beyond the widening reach of electronically stored data.