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As a small business owner, I am hard-wired to support other small businesses in any industry, not least independent bookstores. Although a relatively late convert to Kindle ownership (so much easier when travelling), I prefer the experience, when possible, of reading books in paper version for a fully offline experience. And it appears I am not alone. This week, I was intrigued to read in the New York Times that ebook sales have begun to slip – and print is far from dead.
According to the report, ebook sales fell by 10% in the first five months of this year, and ebook subscription services (in the model of Netflix) have struggled to survive, or actually closed. Independent bookstores, meanwhile, are beginning to show healthier signs of life. As the NYT reports, “The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago.”
Clearly, there is no suggestion that the decline of ebooks is terminal, rather people are instead becoming hybrid readers, switching between device and paper as they prefer. But what is interesting is how the convenience and accessibility of digital reading doesn’t always make it the preferred choice – and this is a sentiment that appears to be cross-generational. The NYT article notes that according to some reports, even millennials – the first generation of digital natives – prefer reading on paper. Ultimately, it seems, people are seeing the value more and more in taking a break from tech, and the notion of taking occasional “tech vacations” may be taking root.
So it’s timely that this week, Swiss consumer electronics company Punkt launched a new phone at the London Design Festival that pledges to be the phone that “gives you your life back.” Stripped of the bells and whistles of the modern smartphone, Punkt’s MP01 phone’s capabilities is limited to enabling users to make and receive calls and texts, use a calendar and store up to 3,000 contacts. And Punkt is not the only company in the market. Minimum, a Chicago-based company, has created a similarly beautifully designed phone that, as the company website says, was “created to effectively manage distractions and promote flow.” Another contender, the Kickstarter funded Light Phone, goes one step further, saying their phone is “designed to be used as little as possible.” Evidently, there is a growing desire to loosen the tech chains that we feel sometimes bind us, and a growing industry to facilitate that desire.
What this means from a communications and brand strategy point of view is that relevance and timeliness are more important than ever. Having the ability to reach your target audience online in an all-consuming way doesn’t mean it’s the most rewarding or effective thing to do. This emerging trend also underlines the need to always create an integrated marketing plan – combine digital with traditional media to create a winning formula.
For insights and advice on your company’s marketing strategy, as ever, please feel free to get in touch.
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