The Future of the Printed BookReport

In the face of rapidly changing reading habits what does the future hold for printed books? Will they still be around in ten years? And if so, how might they be made?

Our publishing initiative, the Book Chain Project, helps publishers to better understand how, where and from what their books are made. It’s been ten years since the first part of the Project began by gathering data on the tree species used in paper. We wrote this report to reflect on that past decade, to better understand our current reading habits, and finally to gaze into the crystal ball to see what books of the future might look like, and how and where they might be made.

Based on current trends we’ve identified four underlying stories of the book:

  • Digital print: New printing technology is significantly affecting how books are made. It’s allowing print-on-demand, local production, and personalised content, and allowing publishers to revive their archived titles, and take opportunities to trial new authors.
  • Digital conversion: In some cases digital clearly offers benefits over print when we look at connectivity and interactivity. Where the changes are happening, they’re happening quickly.
  • Digital interaction: Print and digital can complement one another in blended approaches where digital interactivity can help to bring print to life.
  • Digital distraction: In our desire to avoid digital overload from the ever-present screens and devices in our lives, are books one of our last remaining bastions of escapism?

We go on to predict three possible futures for the book and ultimately what this means for our future work on the Book Chain Project.

The report’s findings are informed by our desk research, in-depth interviews with the Project’s publishers, and guest presentations from our 2016 seminars in London and New York.

Related Insights…

Carbon Trust white paper Report

The Carbon Trust have released a white paper on the carbon impact of video streaming. This publication is an important milestone for DIMPACT, a collaborative project run by Carnstone with the University of Bristol to help the digital media industry map and manage its carbon impacts.

The study estimates the average carbon footprint in Europe per hour of video streaming is approximately 55gCO2e, equivalent to boiling an average electric kettle three times.

It also shows that the viewing devices are responsible for the largest part of the overall carbon footprint. For example, the footprint of watching on a 50-inch TV is shown to be roughly 4.5 times that of watching on a laptop, and roughly 90 times that of watching on a smartphone.

The Book Chain Project: Impact Report 2006-2020 Report

This report summarises the impact achieved by the Book Chain Project over the past 15 years. It traces the history of the Book Chain Project, from three separate tools to one collaborative project building better book supply chains; looks at our reach; outlines our work and impact across the three workstreams; describes our collaborations; and ends with a look at the future.

Mirrors or Movers II: The Superpower of Media Report

With a powerful foreword by Christiana Figueres, this report is a progress update and a call to arms for media companies. Focusing on what we call the ‘brainprint’, the report is concerned with media’s superpower: the ability to shift hearts and minds, and the enormous social, political and environmental change this can create.

In the report, we explore how the sector’s management of its content impacts has moved on since the publication of Mirrors or Movers I in 2013. Media responsibility has often been creative and innovative, putting the sector’s talents to good use. But our research shows that rigour and measurement now also characterise media responsibility. This is timely, because society's expectations of what it means to be a 'responsible' media company have developed rapidly.

Based on our insights from convening the Responsible Media Forum for over 15 years, as well as interviews with experts within and beyond the sector, the report also outlines a framework for good practice in content impact measurement and six steps to impact.