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Commentary & Analysis

Yes Virginia, there is a printing industry

The skeptics have all but writen us off The pundits call us a sunset industry Misguided marketers think electronic substitution replaces print But print will prevail

By Frank Romano
Published: December 14, 2012

The skeptics have all but writen us off

The pundits call us a sunset industry

Misguided marketers think electronic substitution replaces print

But print will prevail

Yes, some print has become electronic

And some more print may become electronic

But you cannot replace all print

An e-greeting is not the same as a beautiful card held in your hand, today and decades from now

Digital photos look great on a screen but your grandkids will never see them in the future unless they are printed


Yes, Virginia, there will be print forever

There will be a printing industry forever

We will still have packaging

We will still have real books that record our memories

We will still have direct mail

We will still have posters

We will still have promotional material

We will still have many products that cannot be reduced to zeros and ones


Print cannot die, Virginia

It can only become better

When you want to impress



you will use print

Print alone

Or, print and electronic communication


Print is special

It activates multiple senses

It is 3-dimensional and tactile

It says to the receiver

that the sender cares 

It makes communication glorious


The use of print is wrongly considered un-green

Yet, print uses little energy and pollutes less than electronic methods

Printers have been great stewards of our environment


Yes, Virginia, print is special

The naysayers may have their day

But print will have many days

Now and far into the future

Your life will be enriched by print

And by the people who make print

The printing industry

Frank Romano has spent over 50 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia.

He is the author of over 52 books, including the 10,000-term Encyclopedia of Graphic Communications (with Richard Romano), the standard reference in the field. His books on QuarkXPress, Adobe InDesign, and PDF workflow were among the first in their fields. He has authored most of the books on digital printing. One of his books is the 800-page textbook for Moscow State University.

He has founded eight publications, serving as publisher or editor for TypeWorld/Electronic Publishing (which ended in its 30th year of publication), Computer Artist, Color Publishing, The Typographer, EP&P, and both the NCPA and PrintRIT Journals. His columns appear monthly in the Digital Printing Report. He was the editor of the EDSF Report for 14 years.

Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers.

He has consulted for major corporations, publishers, government, and other users of digital printing and publishing technology. He wrote the first report on on-demand digital printing in 1980 and ran the first conference on the subject in 1985. He has conceptualized many of the workflow and applications techniques of the industry and was the principal researcher on the landmark EDSF study, “Printing in the Age of the Web and Beyond.”

He has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Times of London, USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, and many other newspapers and publications, as well as on TV and radio. 

He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Please offer your feedback to Frank. He can be reached at frank@whattheythink.com.


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