How Digital Are We, Really?

Curious about the digital appetites of the average American? So were the folks at ESignLive, an online digital signature service.

“We polled over 2,000 people and asked them how they felt about their digital options, which paper products were better left alone, and which ones they never needed to see again,” the company stated in a blog post.

In general, 70% of the respondents said they prefer digital overall because “it’s easier.” When they broke it down by usage, a few key things stood out:

  • More than half preferred paper for things like airline tickets (61%), greeting cards (a whopping 72%), list making and note taking (52%) and payment refunds (67%).
  • When it comes to books, 63% prefer printed over digital, numbers that back up recent news from the publishing industry on buying preferences and sales figures.

A preference for digital for things like bank statements, directions and news is not surprising given the prevalence of smartphones in our daily activities.  Still, some things look like they are destined to live on in print: when given a choice of a world of print books vs. e-books, 78% said they couldn’t face a digital-only reading experience.

Interestingly, only 15% of respondents prefer paper because “it’s better for the environment.” It looks like the greenwashing education is making a difference, as people realize the costs of digital’s carbon footprint.

Apparently, digital convenience has radically changed the way we go about our modern lives, and for many uses it makes perfect sense. This analysis is fascinating, though: across the generations – Baby Boomers, GenXers and Millennials – the preference for printed books remains within a few percentage points. So it’s far from an aged-based preference.

As we all learn to embrace an audience-first, platform-agnostic approach to publishing better, this kind of information is critical to reaching our customers where they are.