Progress is inevitable; there is simply no stopping it. As technology improves and the way we experience the world alters, so too must the services and products that we deliver adapt to the demands and requirements of the times. The current Covid crisis has had major repercussions for many businesses. Some have been forced to pivot, others have gone bust while yet others have seen their five-year plans brought forward significantly.

All industries have been affected in one way or another, some significantly more than others. The printing industry is one that has been forced to adapt quickly and it is a space where those with the right blend of technology and leadership could be set to thrive in 2021.

But what are the key publishing trends to look out for in 2021? Here are a few of the services and trends which the experts predict are set to take the industry by storm in the New Year.

Get ready for print on demand

This is an operational process and technology that means books don’t need to be printed in bulk prior to distribution and sales. This ground breaking technology is rapidly gaining popularity with people who self-publish and with publishers who don’t want to end up with huge quantities of unsold inventory that they need to get rid of. It is a great way to reduce printing costs while at the same time ensuring that demand can be met.

The process is simple and advances in digital technology means what would have been a slightly laboured and complicated process in the past, can now be performed quickly and easily.

In short the client sends a manuscript to the publisher. Instead of printing a bulk order the printer only prints a copy each time there is an order that needs to be fulfilled. This is obviously a major boost for self-publishers with limited budgets as it means that minimum order volumes are now a thing of the past.

If the only people who want a copy of your book are your mother and that guy who crushed hard on you when you were still matric, then so be it – you won’t be stuck with another 98 copies of your great novel and nowhere for them to go. Known to printing experts as ‘book of one’, it has become something of a game changer.

Time to get that book out – the emergence of the self-publisher

The lockdown precipitated by the Covid pandemic has seen a lot of major lifestyle changes made for many people. One thing that has stood out for the team at industry website is the rapid growth in self-published books.

The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, as people have lost jobs or found themselves working from home with more time than usual on their hands, they have taken the opportunity to write the book that they have always dreamed of writing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as technology has progressed and readers have moved increasingly to digital, the costs of getting that book out have dropped alarmingly. goes on to point out that many of the best-selling authors on e-reader platforms, like Kindle, are now self-published. Yes, the mega-stars like John Grisham and Jeffrey Archer will still continue to sell millions of copies, but there are now opportunities available to first-timers who have a story to tell.

Team work makes the dream work – the collaborative model

For a long time the standard business model in publishing saw the big publishing houses controlling who and what got printed. They put their marketing clout behind a few bankable writers and pushed them as hard as possible. And while that formula still works, there is increasingly becoming scope for hybrid models or collaborative publishing as it is known.

Collaborative publishing is all about partnerships. Where once it was a case of self-publish or get signed by one of the big publishers, now writers looking to self-publish are increasingly forging deals with publishing houses and managed print services to ensure that everyone wins.

With print on demand and managed print solutions meaning that big advances and upfront commitments are no longer necessary, the self-publishers find themselves in a position where they can tap into the networks and industry experience afforded by the major publishers without any risk to anyone. It is a win/win model and it is proving exceptionally popular according to

The rise of the Audiobook

The popularity of the audiobook continues to grow. Writing on Penny Sansevieri says that there has been an explosion in the number of audiobook titles available and she suggests that the pandemic has led to a rapid increase in audiobook numbers. This claim is borne out by who add that audio books are now the fastest growing format available.

The audiobook has been available since 1934 when they were originally produced for the blind. The digital revolution, the prevalence of devices like iPods, smartphones and the increasingly socially acceptable nature of headphones has meant that books in audio format are now attractive options for a much broader audience. They are also cheap to produce meaning that publishers can reduce printing costs while not hindering distribution.

Writing about audiobooks on the website the assertion is made that the biggest driver behind the rise in popularity of the audiobook has been the effects of the global Covid pandemic. They point out that governments in many countries have implemented strict lockdowns that have meant people need to stay at home and avoid crowded public spaces. This has meant that libraries, universities and shopping centres have been inaccessible and which has forced book readers to explore digital alternatives – audiobooks being the most preferred. 

It is certainly an exciting time to be in publishing. All the evidence suggests that it is a time for change. It is not going to be about survival of the fittest; rather it will be a case of survival of the smartest. What that means is that publishers need to innovate and writers need to build partnerships. Get it right and the future is undoubtedly bright.


Corporate gifting has been a part of the budget of most companies for a very long time. Being able to present a client or partner with an item that is thoughtful, usable and branded is a triple win.

The expense that is incurred in producing or procuring the item is easily offset by the goodwill and future business that is generated. But in order for the expense to be justified there needs to be a significant degree of thought applied to the item. You can’t just stick your logo onto any old item and expect it to bring value.

The last thing you want is for your branded item to end up in the trash – if that happens it is not only your money that has gone to waste, there is also an unspoken suggestion that your company or brand is being trashed as well. With this in mind, here are some ideas for items to brand in 2021. 

Play to the current Covid affected environment

Little more than a year ago the idea of working from home and the prevalence of online conferences and Zoom meetings were quite foreign to most people. Now however, if you haven’t partaken in a Zoom meeting or attended some form of online seminar or conference, then you are almost certainly in the minority.

In the pre-Covid days it was common practice to receive goody bags and branded items at conferences – so why not look to replicate that in the virtual space. Writing on the respected website, marketing guru Cathy Houston stresses the importance and relevance of producing branded items for virtual event giveaways.

She stresses that if chosen right the branded items should not only help to make the event more engaging but that they should also be items that can be used in or during the online event. In suggesting items like wireless headphones or notepads made from recycled paper, she stresses that if done right, you will not only activate your brand but also bring attendees together even while they’re physically apart.

Research shows that a corporate gift, done well, can increase sales or brand interactions by as much as 45%. 

Whatever you do, give it a face

In the time of lockdown and isolation research shows that people want to see people. It makes sense really if the only faces you see in the flesh are your curmudgeonly housemate and the delivery guy that there will be a craving for new faces in your daily interactions.

As a result of the above one of the most notable trends in branding to emerge over the last year has been the incorporation of imagery of people on branded items. Design site notes that this applies particularly to faces, and faces with personalities.

So, in getting items printed, keep this in the front of your mind. Whatever it is that you choose to print on, be it a t-shirt, salt and pepper shakers or a simple notepad, if you incorporate a face into the design you will be winning.

Add to this, if you find the right printing partner you can also ensure that you reduce printing costs at the same time. The branding experts go on to explain their thinking, saying ‘faces humanize a brand very well, and a lot of branding trends in 2021 lean towards this overall humanization.’ If you are in any doubt include a personal message from yourself and include your image – either a simple photograph or perhaps a caricature. But ensure that it is personal – it is not just a gift, it is a little bit of you!

Get your name and message out there

Sometimes branding is a long term play. How about a play where you arrange to get a car or cars branded. Perhaps offer your staff some extra cash to act as moving billboards for your company.

In terms of win/win solutions, it is a pretty tidy option. Extra money for the staff. Good exposure for your brand. And overall an enhanced feeling of unity and togetherness for your team.  

Stick with what works

While it is very important to know what the trends are, it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel. If you have had success in the past with specific branded items, then you might just want to continue with the items that have stood you in good stead in the past. Especially at this time of year items like calendars or bottles of alcohol with specially printed labels come to mind.

If you are going to go with something like a calendar, make sure that it comes with beautiful imagery (incorporating the latest trends), and that it includes more than just dates of public holidays.

Include some calls to action that are specific to your company or brand – perhaps some hidden discount codes on key days throughout the year that will give your clients something to look out for.  

Make it interactive by working with a managed print services partner

The modern trend is to get people interacting with brands. But how exactly do you do this when talking about branded items? How about connecting with a local print on demand company who can offer a bespoke solution for you? Done right, and with the correct partner, you could be on your way to a great activation and a successful campaign. 

But how exactly would it work? Let’s use caps or t-shirts as an example. Build a website whose details you can send to your clients. On it, they walk through some simple steps. They pick a style and a colour from the options you provide. Then they upload an image of their choice. You finish it all off with your company logo and you ask your printing partner to take care of the shipping and delivery.

In short, each job is bespoke or individualised. It is a print-run of one. Might sound onerous but if you work with the right partner you will find that you have a seamless and unique solution that ensures your client is happy and that your branded product is used. The days of printing companies needing to do large batch runs are a thing of the past – individual, print on demand items are now both easy and cost-effective to produce.     

Get crafty with micro-distilling and industrial printing

A few years ago it was considered quite novel when companies printed their own labels and attached them to wine bottles. Now, it is easy to go a step beyond that by partnering with a craft brewer or micro-distiller. Develop your own limited edition batch of gin or beer with tastes or fragrances that can speak to what you are about as a brand.

Print up labels and distribute as required. Or, if you prefer, host a party where your beverages are served. Everyone loves a party and if you have done the job right, your unique range of beverages will be a talking point that has everyone interacting with and enjoying your brand. If you do go this route, make sure that the drinks taste good and that the bottles look good as well – print labels that are stylish and which drive home the message of what your brand is all about. Or, find an outfit that is able to do industrial printing and print directly onto the cans or bottles – you don’t need to be old-school about this!

Given the current state of affairs with regard to Covid-19 and the lockdown, it is worth bearing in mind that there might be some issues with alcohol distribution and transportation – but it remains a winning idea and one that can easily be implemented when the lockdown eases.

The key here is two-fold. Firstly you need to make sure that you stay up-to-date with the latest branding and printing trends. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to identify the right partner to work with. Find yourself a reliable, flexible and creative print partner who will help you to achieve your goals.


In 2021, self-published books have a better chance than ever of making it big. Self-publishing is accessible to everyone, no matter who or where you are.

You can even write your book in the most remote inhabited place on earth (Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland) and print on demand in Cape Town

Book-of-1 printing is about printing what you need, when you need it, where you need it

You don’t even need to have your book in a bookstore to be successful. Readers really don’t worry about how a book is published, as long as the book is first-rate. 

If it’s going to become a bestseller, it will, whether or not it’s traditionally published. 

Possibly the most (in)famous self-publishing success story is E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. She self-published the first book in 2011 as an eBook and printed on demand in paperback. OK, all self-published books might not go from an eBook to a bestselling paperback to a Hollywood blockbuster.  

But if you’ve written a book, there’s every reason to believe that you can self-publish it. And there are countless online sites to help you do this, step by step. 

Self-published books are also extremely accessible. For instance, if you write a memoir about your remarkable life, someone searching ‘memoir’ on Takealot would see yours come up, along with the likes of Ahmed Kathrada’s or Barack Obama’s. 

With the book-of-1 model, you are able to list your title on Print on Demand‘s local or international distribution channels and do your marketing first. 

Once someone buys your title, the order is routed to Print on Demand’s facility where it is produced, delivered to the online platform of your choice and makes its way to the customer.

You don’t have to lift a finger, just wait to receive your royalties

By printing this way, publishers and self-publishers are able to reduce the risk of printing too many copies upfront. 

You can monetise your backlists and keep all your books in your catalogue in print. It is also great if you want to do pre-launch marketing to test the demand for a particular title.

This exceptional service means you can make a more informed decision when it comes to spending your hard-earned money. 

It’s not printed book vs eBook, but printed book plus eBook AND audiobook

Readers want choice; to choose what they want to read based on where they are. When you’re on the beach you don’t want to get sand in your tablet, so you prefer to read a physical book. 

Travelling by plane, reading on a tablet is more convenient. And in your car, an audiobook is probably the most productive way to spend the commute.

Many readers will use e-Readers, one of the major benefits being that you can now carry a whole library with you anywhere. 

This means that even if someone chooses to take one book with them when they venture out to the cafe, travel or relax, they are also taking your book.

 It’s also possible to read eBooks on a laptop or even a smartphone, making it easier for people to remember to pick up and read without trying to remember where they left the book.

Print on Demand gives publishers the opportunity to sell their eBook on every major marketplace in the world including Apple, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google and Barnes & Noble. 

It also has distribution rights with Takealot (The Amazon of Africa). One in three eBooks sold on Amazon is self-published.

As the environmental crisis intensifies, sustainability is of utmost importance

Publishing your book electronically means less use of paper as well as all the materials and processes that go into producing a print book. 

As awareness of environmental issues grows, there will probably be a strong shift towards people buying eBooks for this very reason.

eBook versions of your self-published book can create even more revenue for you, reach new markets and test demand in a relatively inexpensive and measurable way.

Print on Demand also has a professional video and audio production studio that can help you record audiobooks, videos, podcasts and adverts. 

Their team of voiceover artists, a producer and a sound engineer can guide you every step of the way and give you the best opportunity to make a good first impression, build customer relationships, monetise your content and build a loyal following.

Whatever you’re writing, the self-publishing method offers you maximum creative control and the ability to pocket a greater share of the profits.

The bottom line is if you’re a first-time writer, it will be more difficult for you to attract the attention of the publishing industry anyway. 

Self-publishing a book, eBook or audiobook can help you attract a fan base and prove to potential publishers that you know how to write a book. 

Numerous successful authors got their start in self-publishing, and producing a hit on your own may attract the attention of book publishers in the future.


Ask anyone who has ever had a writing deadline or task on their to-do list if they have suffered from writer’s block, and they will almost certainly respond with a ‘yes’. As the old 1980’s hit by FR David suggests, Words, Don’t Come Easy.

But words are not impossible either; people have made a living out of writing for a long time – some more successfully than others – so with that in mind, here are a few simple hacks to help you turn your book into reality and to get your words out of your head and onto paper.

1. It’s not just a commitment to yourself

If you tell yourself that you are going to write a book, it will probably never happen. It takes extreme self-discipline to sit down and research, plan and write a book. In the same way that people training for a marathon tend to do so with friends or as part of a club, so too should a writer commit to the task with others. The commitment that you make will be to the team that is going to help you get the book over the line. In the world of self-publishing, South Africa is a leader and you will need to surround yourself with a team that includes a proof-reader, a publisher, a designer, etc. The more people there are who can hold you accountable the better it is for you.

Having said that, don’t go and make outrageous claims or commit to deadlines that can never be met. But at the same time do challenge yourself to hit regular deadlines. It might be as simple as telling your proof-reader or editor that you will have a new chapter for them to read in a week. But create that expectation and set that goal and you will find that you are more likely to get it done. Quite simply, if you don’t know what the goal is, you will never score. So set goals and delight in hitting them. 

2. Do not be afraid

A huge part of writer’s block is fear. Writing a book is a very personal activity and for many people, there is a fear that their best efforts will be deemed not good enough once they are done. And so the subconscious hunt for excuses not to start (or not to finish for that matter) begins. 

But there really is no need to be afraid. Remember first and foremost that you are writing for yourself. You don’t need a major publishing house to snap up the rights to your manuscript. That doesn’t happen very often. For many writers self-publishing a book is the way to go – even better than that there is now a company called Pring on Demand that offers print on demand solutions, which means you don’t need to commit to a massive print run. In fact, if you want to print a copy for yourself and one for your grandfather (who has always been your biggest fan), then print on demand technology allows you to do exactly that. If it turns out that the book is really good and everyone at granddad’s old-age home wants a copy, then it is simple to increase the number of copies as the orders flood in.

3. Perfection is the enemy of good. Beware

Similar to the above but more about the words than the publishing process, be aware that perfection is almost unattainable. In fact, the quest for perfection often ensures that many talented writers never get their very good books published because they are always trying to make them better. Gustav Flaubert, who wrote Madame Bovary, a novel that has been described as one of the greatest and most influential masterpieces of all time, took five years to get the book done. He is famous for his quest to find the unique right word. But without denigrating your talent, you should probably not try to compare yourself to Flaubert. Aim to write something good and then see what happens after that. Don’t hold yourself to impossible standards.

In fact, in his very worthwhile video, Jeff Bollow suggests that the success to getting past fear and writer’s block is to give yourself permission to write garbage. He clarifies this by saying that you probably won’t write garbage, but that by giving yourself permission to not be perfect you are freeing yourself from the chains that are holding you back. 

4. Know where you are going

This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but you are writing this book, it isn’t going to take care of itself. And if you want to succeed in your publishing quest, then you need to know what you are going to write. Anybody can start a book and get a few chapters under the belt. It is finishing that is the hard part. Statistics suggest that of all books that are started only three percent will actually be completed. That means there is a 97% non-completion rate, which is extraordinarily high. You need to know where the story is going or you will find that you are writing yourself into corners and cul-de-sacs. If you know where the work starts and where it ends then it is a whole lot easier to fill in the detail in the middle.  

5. Reward yourself for hitting goals

If a task is so large that it feels unattainable then it becomes a very hard process to even start. As you probably know, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. The same logic applies to getting your book out. Break the task down into achievable daily goals. And reward yourself for hitting those goals. In doing this you make the task of turning your book from an idea into a reality a whole lot easier – and more pleasurable. 

The rewards for achieving the goals don’t need to be big. Think of a quality cup of coffee, a stroll in the park or some time rabbit-holing on YouTube. Pick something that you enjoy and do it once you have hit your daily word goal. Before you know it you will have amassed a substantial body of work.  


Astute branding is what will set your company apart from the rest. And because branding is all about perception, you need to go beyond mere aesthetics.  

The future of brand management is more diverse, inclusive and connected to real customer needs than ever before.

The top 6 branding trends that will dominate in the future include:

1. Environmental footprint and sustainable consumption

Focus on the environment, especially climate change and carbon emissions continues to grow. This used to be associated more with socially conscious brands, but it is now becoming more mainstream.

This is especially true for Millennials and Generation Z. Studies show that 80% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. But what does this mean for branding? 

It is now more important than ever for brands not only to be socially responsible but also to choose the right social mission and use the right marketing tactics.

2. Logo adaptability

If you want to thrive in the digital age, your company needs to have a great website and also have a presence on social networking platforms. 

Doing all this, it’s important to think about logo adaptability. An example is how some leading brands changed theirs amidst the pandemic. For example, McDonald’s was one of the first brands to reflect social distancing on their logo by moving the two famous golden arches apart.

Websites, social networking sites and documents need different layouts.  Brands should have different logos that fit these layouts and can be used for different occasions, giving consumers something different and keeping them from getting bored. 

Because of this trend, many companies are now choosing to create shape-shifting logo designs. 

Digital commercial printing is ideal for businesses looking to do short-run printing and personalisation of new branding. It enables brand owners to get creative with print and get personal with their customers. 

This drives increased engagement and response rates by an order of magnitude. The opportunities are countless in terms of making a lasting impression on clients in a way that is tactile, relevant and valuable.

3. Minimalism 

Minimalism has caught up even in the business industry and we’re witnessing many companies starting to strip down their branding to the simplest possible form. 

For example, both Google and Airbnb recently had facelifts that changed their logos to sans serif, a popular typeface for Minimalism.

Other brands are following the trend too by using fewer colours, more negative space, and simpler typography. In fact, 95% of top brands use only one or two colours for their logo. From Airbnb to Snapchat, companies are racing to create sleek, name-free logos that are still instantly recognizable. 

4. Visual branding reigns supreme

Humans are visual creatures and most spend a lot of time on social media, where visuals reign supreme. 

You just have to look at the growth of image-focused platforms Pinterest and Instagram to see the proof of this. Google, Pinterest, and several other companies are also investing in visual search technology. 

Images are already returned for 19% of searches on Google, and 62% of millennials say they are more interested in visual search than any other new technology.

Digital commercial printing is also a great way to go for innovative brands that want to be customer-demand-led, build unique customer relationships and run lean to optimise margins.

The accessibility of the internet has paved the way for an ‘always-on’ social media culture. This has transformed sites like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram into prime spots for building a brand. 

It’s no surprise that 90% of organizations leverage social media for brand awareness. 

5. Local really is lekker!

Provenance has been growing in importance in branding strategy, mainly because of factors such as carbon footprint and perceived authenticity, as well as increasing trade barriers and supply chain disruption.

 This is evident in the rise of a marketing trend known as ‘hyperlocal marketing‘.

The self-isolation imposed by the pandemic has led to increased digital and broadcast media as well as increased presence on social networks, with a rise of 43% in Facebook use and 45% in WhatsApp use.

Thus, with more South Africans scrolling, there is more room than ever before to focus on the empathy of your brand’s marketing and to target your consumer’s changing needs.

Local consumers are realising that local really is lekker, with 63% of local consumers remaining loyal to the trusted brands they know and love, and consumers showing a greater degree of support for local brands.

6. World-class customer experience

One of the most notable paradigm shifts is the important role that consumers play in the branding process. Companies cannot continue to assume that consumers will passively play along with marketing activities.

In most cases now, consumers want to play an active role with brands by directly impacting their message, position and method of marketing. 

It’s no longer about trying to convince people to buy from or work with your company. Instead, the priority has moved towards providing amazing customer experiences that will keep people coming back for more.  

Coordinate your digital marketing team with your sales and customer service teams to deliver quality throughout their experience. Efficiency, convenience, knowledgeable and friendly service, and easy payment options are what people value most in their customer experience.

Going above and beyond

These days, brand managers and marketers have to go above and beyond to make sure they capture and retain the attention of their target audiences. 

Building a brand now takes more effort than it ever has. It focuses less on how the brand looks and more on how the brand acts. Many companies are working towards fostering authentic consumer experiences to meet demands.  

If you want to get a better idea of other trends in the industry, check out this list of branding statistics

It will give you in-depth data about how B2C and B2B companies are creating brand strategies, what branding tactics appeal to digital natives, as well as where the industry is headed in the coming years.


It is hard to believe that a little more than 18 months ago COVID-19 was something most people had never heard of. The idea of a pandemic and of being locked down was almost completely foreign. And yet, just over a year since President Cyril Ramaphosa took South Africa into hard lockdown, it is now a part of our new reality and it has wreaked havoc in its wake.

Perhaps havoc is a strong choice of word but what is undeniable is that it has resulted in major changes. On a personal level, it has changed in how we live and how we act and from a business perspective in some cases, it has forced entire industries to pivot while others have been almost completely wiped out. So what does the post coronavirus publishing industry look like? Yes, Covid-19 has altered the landscape? Here is a quick overview of how.

The end for some

One of the most notable publishing casualties of the pandemic period was magazines. Media24 culled titles like Men’s Health and Runners WorldAssociated Media closed as did Ndalo Media while Caxton brought an end to titles like Bona, Rooi Rose and People. But these closures were not purely the work of Covid – there were undoubtedly metaphorical co-morbidities in place already.

Circulation had been in decline for a while. Advertising revenue was not what it was either. Covid simply swooped in and finished off the job. Regardless it is fair to say that the post-COVID publishing industry has been through a big change, especially given that for many years magazines were a staple of the media industry.  

The rise of digital

Digital publishing has been rising slowly to prominence over the last decade. The arrival of Covid-19 played a huge role in rapidly accelerating its rise. As much as people like to read an actual newspaper or a book, the reality was that to get your hands on those items meant going out and purchasing an item that had been handled by a countless number of people in the sales chain. 

Digital dissemination meant never having to leave home. It meant easy access and, in many cases, it is also a much cheaper option than buying an actual hard copy item. According to research on WrittenWord Media, “Physical books became sidelined initially due to bookstores being closed, and shipping delays from online retailers. eBook sales surged as readers turned to convenient and immediate delivery. Kindle sales on Bargain Booksy grew by 18% in March alone.”      

The emergence of the self-publishing author

Another huge change that has been brought about by Covid has been the rise of the self-published author. Locked down at home with time on their hands, many people decided to use the opportunity to write their memoir or the novel that had been inside them for years. This trend that was the result of more time for people was amplified by the huge advances that have taken place in printing and publishing in recent years.

Unlike in the past, it is no longer necessary to have a deal with a publisher in order to get a book printed. Printers are now able to offer services like print on demand or book of one. This is a wonderful concept that means an author can send a manuscript to a publisher and print only as many books as they have sold. If they need to print a single copy it is as easy and cost-effective to do as a run of several thousand. The days of self-publishing authors having cupboards bursting with unsold copies of their books is now a thing of the past.  

Audiobooks for the win

This is a format that is booming. Prior to lockdown, a Deloitte study published by the BBC suggested the global market for audiobooks would grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). That was before the pandemic struck with all its force and glory and the numbers turned out to be even better than anticipated. In some ways, it is hard to fathom why the growth was so good given that there was less commuting – a time where people traditionally listened to audiobooks. 

In an interview with The Guardian Duncan Honeyman, the Senior Commissioning Editor for Penguin Random House shared his thoughts on why this form of book was doing so well during lockdown. “Being read to is a really intimate and comforting thing,” he said. “It’s a human connection at a time when a lot of people are feeling isolated from one another.”

He adds, “You can buy and download a whole digital audiobook in an instant so you can start listening immediately, and you can multi-task so you can listen on your daily exercise, or while you’re cooking or doing the housework.”  

In short, the world has been reshaped and it may never be the same game. The weak have been culled and there is suddenly scope for new growth and products to come to the fore. If Covid-19 has taught us one thing it is the need to pivot and adapt and the publishing industry is no different to any other – the change has been quick and it has been brutal. Those who have positioned themselves in the right place have flourished and will continue to do so. It is certainly not the end for the industry, rather an opportunity for new beginnings and a reimagining of traditional business models.


Publishers and their suppliers are becoming more and more aware that the concerns of their readers will drive the way in which publishing becomes more sustainable. The shift of literature to digital mediums, like ebooks and audiobooks, has been happening increasingly over the last 10 years. Innovation in the publishing industry has resulted in various products, including digital readers, audiobooks and self-publishing. These developments have gone a long way to make reading and publishing more accessible, both in terms of affordability and more sustainability.

One of the biggest windows of opportunity for publishing ebooks has been the coronavirus pandemic. The Book Industry Group noted that “the level of technology spending across the publishing business is impossible to estimate”, but it is clear that the physical book is slowly but surely becoming less relevant to consumers. For example, the accuracy in translating books to different languages, social media and search algorithms, the security and safety aspects associated with downloading digital media, making ebooks compatible with accessibility features, are just tips of the iceberg when it comes to changes that could be made to improve the world.

And paper manufacturing is the third-largest user of fossil fuels worldwide, using significant amounts of oil and gas at many phases of the process of turning trees into books.

The easiest way to stop the destructive cycle and practice sustainable reading is to read (or listen to someone reading) in digital format.
iPads, Kindles, and other e-reader devices do have a carbon footprint and an environmental cost (including the electricity necessary to charge them up)—and it can be a big one. However, studies have shown that the more you read on an e-reader, the lower the environmental impact.

Reading 60 or more books over the lifetime of your Kindle or iPad makes it more environmentally friendly than reading the same number of print books.


If you are going to go the book-printing route, consider choosing from publishers that use print-on-demand (POD) technology, and who can create ebooks and audiobooks.

This is a much more sustainable publishing option. Print on Demand can reduce printing costs because instead of printing tens of thousands of copies in the hopes that they’ll all sell, then destroying 30-40% of those books, publishers can use POD to print only the books that have actually sold to customers.

How it works is that a customer places an order for a book, the order is passed on to the printer, which creates the book on special high-speed digital presses. The finished book is then packed and shipped, using a minimum of excess packaging, straight to the buyer.

Many POD suppliers are making significant efforts to ‘green’ their processes and supply chains and are also committed to recycling as much of their facility’s waste as possible (and they produce significantly less waste per book than a traditional printer).

eBooks and audio books are probably also the most logical way to diversify revenue, reach new markets and become more sustainable in a relatively inexpensive and highly measurable way.

By recording audiobooks, videos or podcasts, you can produce content that engages your audience through professional video and audio production.

Until more research has been done on the lifecycle and environmental impact of the electronics used for digital publishing, pitting paper and e-media against each other is futile. It doesn’t need to be an ‘either or’ situation. There is a place for both paper and e-media.

In fact, the ideal situation is that we use both electronic and print media in a way that meets our social and environmental and economic needs.


If you’re a small company offering a limited range of products, the shrewdest thing you can do when it comes to packaging is to make use of custom short-run packaging. It’s especially useful if you factor in that you may be planning new product launches, seasonal promotions or niche customer experiences – all of which will require changes to your packaging on a quarterly, monthly or even weekly basis.

South African packaging manufacturers have had to shift their processes completely to accommodate these small business-packaging strategies. Small business owners, marketers and brands are now looking for partners who can adapt quickly, provide high-quality graphics in shorter lead times and with little to no minimum order quantities. Advances in digital printing technology make it extremely easy to order shorter runs of custom packaging without sacrificing quality or cost.

By partnering with Print on Demand you are able to leverage our ability to produce personalised marketing materials one-by-one or at scale with quick turnaround time and in full colour.

Digital printing ideal for short-runs

There are different kinds of commercial printing but the one that adds the most value by far is digital. Digital commercial printing is ideal for businesses seeking short-runs and personalisation.

It enables brand owners to get creative with print and get personal with their customers. This drives increased engagement and response rates. The opportunities are countless in terms of making a lasting impression on clients in a way that is tactile, relevant and valuable.

Custom short-run packaging offers various opportunities for small businesses. It can help new businesses launch when they are not sure of volumes; launch trial products; try new types of packaging; launch promotional products; produce regional variations; create collectors editions, and produce just-in-time packaging for e-commerce companies.

Top-quality print

Digital printing gives you quantity AND quality. With the rip of a high-resolution file, digital inkjet technology dispenses the exact amount of ink needed within the full CMYK colour spectrum. This means your brand colours are printed perfectly every time, whether you need 1 box or 1000.

Flexibility to change your look

A small business can test different styles, sizes and graphics for all its product lines. The options to customize packaging are endless and you don’t have to settle on anything less than affordably unique.

Quick turnaround

By eliminating printing plates and cutting dies, the options to customize size, style, material and print are quick and easy. When a small business places an order, the boxes immediately go into a production queue and can ship in as little as 5-10 business days. Digital production allows for continuous runs from job to job without multiple changeovers and setups.

Reduce your inventory

Small businesses now have the option of ordering small quantities of custom short-run packaging. For most SMEs, it could take several months to turn inventory on a monthly basis. High volume packaging orders may sit for six months to a year before they are completely used up. That’s money on the books that could be allocated towards marketing budgets or other investments. Not to mention, if a product, logo, or claim changes, that packaging now becomes waste. Small business packaging doesn’t have to be a lifelong investment. Order what you need, when you need it and save money while doing it with short-run custom packaging.

Why custom short-run packaging is perfect for SMEs

Product packaging is just as important as the brand story. Customising your packaging shows consumers you’ve put thought into each and every detail. It creates a memorable experience that they’ll connect with and builds brand recognition and customer loyalty. Whether you need one or 10 000, your packaging says it all.

With custom short-run packaging, there are no excuses for not having unique, yet cost-effective packaging that aligns with your brand.


Successfully managing cash flow is a critical business function for every company, no matter what size. The rule of thumb is to only order what you need, especially if you are launching a new, unproven product. This is where short-run packaging can be extremely useful and will help with costs, decision-making and future planning.

The great thing about short-run packaging is that you produce only what you need – when you need it. Granted, your per-unit price may be a bit higher, but the risk of over-inventory supply is less and you can manage your cash more efficiently.

With short-run packaging, you can now order small quantities of high-quality products at very affordable prices.

Here are a couple of the benefits of short-run packaging:

1. Start small, save on start-up costs, do quick changes

It’s important to talk to your customer and fully understand their brief before ordering brand packaging. Will you need to change the design at a later stage for some geographic or demographic need? Will you have to alter the messaging down the line?

2. Grow your product line steadily

Try to produce your packaging at the same time you manufacture your product. Even if you think you are going to sell large amounts of the product, having too much product and packaging stored can be a risk and a drain on space. If you are able to keep an even order pattern as you grow your product, you will have a healthier balance of product and cash flow management

3. Avoids pressure from customers

Whatever you do, don’t be manipulated into buying more packaging than you need – and don’t be afraid to distance yourself from any pressure your customers may be putting on you. If you don’t have the storage space for large amounts of unused packaging, you are just creating a new set of problems. One major drawback of ordering items in bulk is the risk of theft and damage such as fires, floods, and other natural disasters. Experts advise that you need to store only items that you expect to use in the near future.

4. Budgeting benefits

There was a time when it was almost impossible to order less than 500 packaging units from a supplier because most manufacturers set their minimum orders at 500 units. This often became a huge challenge for consumers on a tight budget where, for example, you could only meet the cost of 300 packaging units for your 300 products. With short-run packaging, you order only what you need.

5. Launching trial products

Once the design process is complete with a short-run packaging project, the difficult part is over. Reordering your packaging is quick and simple and the turnaround time will be less. If you discover you didn’t order enough, restocking your inventory won’t take as long as when you were just beginning the packaging design process.

Short-run packaging is an important business strategy to understand and use. While there are times when market demands require large quantities, following the steps above will help you make a more informed decision when short run becomes the more viable option.


In recent years, more businesses are remaining loyal to print while others switch to digital. Why? Because print marketing is a tried and tested method of communication. It is perceived as authentic and trustworthy, especially when digital marketing is so ubiquitous, impersonal, less memorable and intangible.

And the last thing you want is your marketing campaign getting lost in the fleeting digital clutter of today’s online world.

Print marketing is a powerful medium

When people say that print marketing is dead, they are ignorant and uninformed.

In fact, print media has evolved with the help of new technology. Progress in printing methods, such as variable data printing, have also seriously lowered printing costs. So, if your business rules out print marketing without understanding the nature of modern printing, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities for growth.

Print marketing taps into the ‘haptic memory’

Printed media can be physically touched, seen and engaged with. By using magazines, brochures, newspapers and flyers, you can gain a greater sense of constant exposure, unlike online ads and other digital methods. The fact that you can touch and feel print media taps into consumer’s ‘haptic memory’ (touch memory), which is proven to be the most lasting form of emotional connection. You can also give print media a customized, personal feel, which gives printed media unique trustworthiness. Recent studies have shown that potential customers are far more likely to trust your company when your marketing is presented via high-quality print, such as luxury brochures or thick gsm flyers.

Just think about your company newsletter, or magazines you enjoy, as well as the in-store magazines you receive as a loyal customer – it feels great to be able to touch and feel, and you can turn over the page as a reminder to go back to an article or tear out pages to add to your storyboard or scrapbook.

The impact of a well-designed printed piece will leave a long-lasting impression on anyone. With the increasing amount of time spent online, both at home and the office, seeing a printed marketing material brings a sense of value that’s sometimes lost in all the pixels we see daily.

Print marketing is good for our brains

Recent findings in the field of neuroscience suggest that print marketing offers special advantages in connecting with our brains. New research has again shown that content on paper affects our brains in different and more powerful ways.

The latest findings come from Temple University consumer neuroscience researchers. In a study conducted for the US Post Office, they found significant differences in the way our brains process the two ad formats. Some of the interesting findings were that paper ads engaged viewers for more time; a week later, subjects showed greater emotional response and memory for physical media ads; and physical ads caused more activity in brain areas associated with value and desire.

In a previous series of experiments, the same Temple researchers showed that the ventral striatum was the brain structure whose activity was most predictive of future purchasing behaviour. Notably, the latest set of experiments showed that physical media caused greater activation of the ventral striatum than digital media. While this doesn’t conclusively show that paper is more powerful than digital for stimulating intent to purchase, it is a finding worth exploring in more detail.

Print marketing helps you reach your target audience much more easily

Using printed media, such as posters or leaflets, can help you reach your target audience much more easily. For a small business with a local reach, print marketing is very effective, as it creates local brand recognition and guides customers directly to your premises. Print marketing is an important part of any effective marketing campaign. If you want to reach people on the streets or target specific demographics (perhaps people who like certain types of holidays or prefer luxury cars), then you can’t beat print.

If you’re interested in learning more about well-designed materials, take a look at what local company Print on Demand can offer – print on demand, print marketing, and commercial printing. Their in-house design team has over a decade of experience helping businesses design and develop their brands. They can help you design your logo, company stationery, like letterheads, business cards and notebooks and other client facing documents like brochures, pamphlets, flyers, leaflets, calendars and banners. If you’ve already got brand guidelines, Print on Demand can design according to your corporate identity and ensure that your printed marketing materials are always on brand

Whether your current marketing campaign consists of a majority of printed or digital materials, it’s wise to make sure you include an even mix of professionally designed materials.