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Study Finds Majority of Americans Still Prefer Print Media

October 26, 2009
NEW YORK—October 26, 2009—According to new research, digital media is no substitute for traditional printed media. A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Earthtone suggests that most people choose how they consume media based on personal preferences.

Research shows that the majority of U.S. adults think that printed media is easier to read than the digital equivalent. Interestingly, most adults reported that they feel more comfortable when they have something on paper than when it’s on screen, suggesting that we make an instinctive association between things we can touch and feel and things that are ‘real’.

At the same time, many adults also showed a preference for the immediacy that digital media offers. We value the real time information from around the world, the ability to find the music we love in seconds, and the low cost of web-based communications.

“You can exchange a dozen emails in the time it takes to find a stamp for your snail mail, but a handwritten birthday card in your mailbox somehow means more than an identically worded email in your inbox,” says Nader Alaghband, founder and CEO, Earthtone. “Simply put, we choose new, digital media where it adds value and we opt for traditional media when that’s what’s best for us.”

The Paperless Office
Predicting a paperless future has been de rigeur for decades, but the Earthtone survey shows that most employed adults (58 percent) think that the paperless office is unlikely to become a reality any time soon.

People’s preference for print offers one explanation for this widespread skepticism. Nearly two out of three (64 percent) workers prefer ink on paper to a computer screen when it comes to reading. Interestingly, even workers in technology and telecommunications companies agreed that reading in print was easier than reading online, with 70 percent preferring paper, as compared to 57 percent of adults employed in the banking, finance, and insurance industries.

However, employee preference may not be the primary reason why nearly six out of 10 don’t envision working in a paperless office in the next five years. In fact, businesses depend on print because some compliance rules require them to retain records in hardcopy. As a result, print will continue to be a mission critical business function until regulators decide to accept digital record-keeping.

What’s Next for Hardcopy?
 

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