The value of printing

Paper has been around in one form or another for millennia, but has a rapid increase in the development of digital technology now threatened its very existence?

The value of printing

The value of hard copies and why they are still valuable for reading and retaining information

Paper has been around in one form or another for millennia, but has a rapid increase in the development of digital technology now threatened its very existence? The short answer is that this is unlikely to be the case.

It’s true that where a busy commuter train was once packed with people poring over that morning’s newspaper, you are now likely to find a greater majority browsing their smartphone or tablet for the latest news. However, it’s also still the case that in a whole host of professional environments, including in legal, corporate and other offices, and across the education sector, printed documents still have a key role to play.

The hidden strengths of a printed document

The importance of this role is especially true where digesting information is key, as is the ability to take real, tangible notes. In 2013, a Norwegian study of school pupils found that reading texts in print versus on a computer screen is better for some aspects of comprehension. Conducted by the Reading Centre of the University of Stavanger, the research involved dividing a group of 72 10th grade teenagers into two groups, both of which were tasked with reading two texts – one fiction, one fact. The key difference was that one group read the texts on a computer screen and the other read these texts on paper.

What was found was that a majority of pupils that had read the texts on a computer screen had understood less than those who read the same texts on paper – this was true for both the factual and fictional texts. In fact the same university team also conducted research last year, pitting e-readers against paperback books. Once again it was discovered that those that had read the text on paper were better able to recall the events in a fictional story, especially the order of given events. This serves to highlight a quality of printed text that may have previously been overlooked.

An interesting trend?

Even with the rise of tablets and satnavs, it can still be seen that many people prefer to print out maps for navigating, recipes for cooking and confirmation emails for events and deliveries. Many businesses now offer paperless statements for billing or accounts, positioning this as a ‘green’ alternative. However, there is little research to compare the impact of producing sustainable paper versus the long-term impact of electronics, discarded equipment and the energy required to run them. In fact, according to a study released by technology consultancy Forrester Research Inc. in 2013, more than half of the customers of US companies were still opting for paper statements when given the option.

It’s not just written in black and white

At Epson it is no secret that we have a vested interest in the use of printed documents, and it’s a situation we believe is unlikely to change in the coming years. As reflected on already, many people like to print everyday documents, especially when proofreading text, or for formal contracts. However, we are also proud of pioneering new technologies and products, some of which promote a change in the way schools and businesses function. This has included creating interactive projectors that allow an enhanced level of collaboration in both boardrooms and classrooms, scanners and complementary software that are ideal for digitising and archiving files, and even augmented reality glasses that change the way that information and environments can interact together.

While the value of print is still recognised by many, in tandem with a heavily digitised world, Epson has continued to develop products that provide high-value, energy-efficient and on-demand printing. These include Epson’s new EcoTank range that makes the printing of everyday documents easy and affordable, and the WorkForce Pro  RIPS series of business printers that provide a number of benefits to printing in the office.

Click here to find out more about Epson’s RIPS printers.