If you think the internet revolution has been rough on print media, wait until you see what the tablet revolution does, a paper-industry forecaster says.
As if there weren’t enough gloom and doom in the paper and printing industries these days, Roman Hohol says tablets and other digital devices will depress the demand for printed media even faster than most forecasts predict. But the director of the marketing practice for Forest Industry Consulting also sees signs that the tablet revolution will benefit many publishers.
“I believe that most [paper] industry forecasts underestimate the impact of digital media on graphic paper demand, not wanting to appear too negative to their clients,” Hohol told Dead Tree Edition. “We have developed an outlook for our clients that is quite negative.”
Hohol will present that outlook in more detail during the Industry Intelligence webcast “How the mobile media revolution will impact global graphic paper demand”, which will air at 2 p.m. EST Thursday and be available for download thereafter. Hohol gave Dead Tree Edition a sneak peek at the webcast, including the three main reasons he believes the global publication-papers industry is “under siege”:
1) The rapid adoption of tablets
The phenomenal sales growth of iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and other e-reading devices is already dampening demand for print media, he says.
“Because tablets are so new, the data on usage are spotty,” he says. But studies are already finding a measurable shift in consumer behavior away from print media and toward tablet versions, he adds.
“Print newspapers are the most affected media, followed by books and magazines.”
(Note this comment last week from Angela Bole of the Book Industry Study: “Consumers who migrate to digital are spending less on physical hardcover and paperback books.”)
2) Digital substitution in the developing world
The usual assumption has been that rising affluence and literacy in developing countries would mean growing demand for print media for some years in those countries before digital media ruin the party. That’s why so many huge coated-freesheet paper machines are coming on line in China.
But Hohol already sees signs of trouble for print media in China and India.
“Newspaper and magazine circulation is still growing in those countries (Brazil and Indonesia as well), but digital media growth is much faster.” He thinks newsprint consumption in China may already be near its peak.
3) A new business model for publishers
“Tablet users appear more willing to pay for content than do web browsers,” Hohol says. That is making publishers more enthusiastic about abandoning print than when the only alternative to print was the web.
(Similarly, Boles is optimistic about book publishers' prospects because her organization found that consumers who have transitioned to e-books are spending more than before on books in all formats. “Assuming the publishing industry can develop the right business models, this is good news,” she said.)
“As readers shift from print to digital forms,” Hohol said, “publishers will find the cost of producing print prohibitive (many of the executives I speak to would love to do away with the cost of paper, ink, printing and distribution) and therefore will have to recoup the costs of producing print from the readers. Does this mean that a woman will have to pay $50 for the September issue of a print Vogue? Maybe.”
Responding to a recent prediction about the outlook for newspapers in five years, he says, “I do not agree that there will be only five daily newspapers in the U.S. but do think that many large dailies will forego print editions and focus exclusively on digital delivery.”
“Print media is not going to disappear in the coming decade; but it will become less relevant and more expensive.”