Print’s Up; That’s a Fact

What do transportation equipment, clothing and printing have in common? You might be surprised.

Manufacturing industries in general had a rough year in 2015, with the category down 4.3% overall from 2014. Petroleum and coal; leather and allied products; even food products all saw declines last year.

In fact, of 21 manufacturing categories, only nine had a positive year. So of course print was down too, right?

Um, no.


“For the first time in twenty years, commercial printing growth exceeded GDP,” writes Dr. Joe Webb in What They Think.

Let’s say that again. Commercial printing in 2015 grew faster than the overall GDP. That hasn’t happened in two decades. 

Dr. Webb cites last month’s U.S. Department of Commerce Manufacturing Shipments Report to show just how well print did compared to the bulk of the manufacturing sector.

“Of 21 major manufacturing industries, nine had positive years in current dollars, with commercial printing as sixth highest,” he notes. The category was up 3.5% over 2014 figures.

What does this prove?

For starters, it appears that the resurgence of print is real and tangible. Evidence abounds in our industry, from the growth in niche publications and custom publishing to the return of luxury marketers to print.

Print did some great work in 2015 and the prognosticators that still talk about print as a dying industry need to look at the facts and figures.

We don’t blame them; it was an easy mistake for those who thought digital was the replacement for print. For the rest of us who understand it’s not an either/or, the impact of print won’t be denied.