Paper-based print media is on the verge of becoming obsolete, done in by pure digital publishing. In just a few years, people will be reading magazines, perusing catalogues, and thumbing through flyers on ultra-portable tablet PCs and PDAs. The mechanical printing press is doomed.
And pigs can fly. With all the amazing advances in electronic publishing and communications, old fashioned ink-on-paper remains at the forefront of most communications programs, preferred by publishers, advertisers, mass mailers, businesses, and most important, readers.
Rather than being displaced by the Web, e-mail, PDFs, tablet PCs and the like, print campaigns are increasingly being integrated with digital and other media forms ... and it's not just large multi-national publishers successfully leveraging this new approach.
Next year, such cross-media campaigns will be within the reach of literally everyone, from the smallest business publisher to the largest global enterprise.
The reason: adoption of high-performance digital technologies, including broadband connections, secure remote storage, workflow management software, standardized document formats (such as Adobe's PDF), and interactive multimedia tools (Sun Microsystems' Java, Macromedia's Flash, etc.) have reached critical mass among medium- and large-scale shops.
This has driven down the cost of entry for digital publishing technology, which has finally reached the point where practically any publishing, advertising, or business organization can effectively utilize multimedia campaigns.
Perhaps most important, demand for consumer "reader" devices has also reached critical mass. Personal computers with Web browsers, Java- and Windows-powered PDAs and mobile phones, DVD players, and the new Tablet PC are all driving demand for electronic content that can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
But high entry costs, fuzzy ROI propositions, and lack of consumer demand aren't the only barriers that once stood between publishers and the rewards of integrated print and new media campaigns. For early adopters of cross-media publishing, controlling color across print, Web, electronic, and streaming media has become one of the biggest challenges.