Approximately 6 years ago I made the shift from a job which had a 70/30 focus on print/web work to a full-time career as a user experience designer. This move made sense, not just because the future of the print industry was becoming unclear but also because I had an interest in the digital landscape and felt the need to improve my knowledge and skills in the field of user interaction design.
This isn't to say I have touched a piece of work which was headed for the printers since, typography and books are something that I love so I'm always dabbling. It's also clear that the enhancements in programming are starting to allow some "real" typography to appear across the web and the fundamentals are ever so important regardless of medium.
What I've discovered in the past few years is that digital printing, once much-maligned as something cheap and nasty for short run flyers and posters is actually keeping print alive by allowing small run print jobs of complex jobs such as hard cover books and coffee table style portfolios.
When I was studying, all I wanted to do was have professionally printed and bound copies of my work, but unless I was going to spend thousands of dollars and print an extra 10,000 copies more that I needed, it was never a viable option.
Today, with services such as those offered by Blurb I can print high quality books in various shapes and sizes on demand whenever I want a fresh copy. I can even make them available to the general public.
I discovered Blurb by accident, blurbhack.com, blurb.com ... you can see what happened there. I was so amazed by what they were offering, I needed to find a reason to use them. In the end I decided I would make notebooks from my cover concepts which decorate the reviews I write, like this one which is an alternate cover concept of a book about the directorial career of horror movie maker Dario Argento, written by James Gracey. I love the pulp paper back feel to these and the inside pages are cream with the right hand side pages ruled and the left hand side papers blank.
These notebooks are a lot of fun to produce and I use them all the time at work now often having people as why I'm bringing my book into a meeting? However I also wanted to print something more substantial and really see what Blurb could do. As I was thinking of changing jobs at the time, I decided I would create portfolios of my design work, one for each employer. These have turned out so well and impressed people even more for presentation than the work in them.
So even though the traditional printing press might soon see the end of it's days and that is a shame really, the idea of reading off of textured paper is still something people have in their nature. The types of services, like Blurb, which offer short run book, poster, stationery and even canvas printing mean that the print industry, like everything else can live on if it adapts to the market and embraces new ideas and clientele.