Office Printing Declining = Digital Reading Increasing

Last month the Economist took note that paper consumption by U.S. office workers has been declining since 2001, after doubling over the 20 years prior (despite much talk about the “paperless office” starting in the 1970s). Ironically, this peak was marked by publication of The Myth of the Paperless Office, and Malcolm Gladwell’s seminal review in the New Yorker The Social Life of Paper, a peerless paean to paper. But all that theorizing about the innate superiority and longevity of paper seems to have been dead wrong. As the Economist notes in a related article, it seems to be more of a generational thing: “Older people still prefer a hard copy of most things, but younger workers are increasingly comfortable reading on screens and storing and retrieving information on computers or online.”
This was part of a broader look by the Economist at how so-called discredited technologies are often just ahead of their time.
The Economist didn’t mention eBooks, but it’s a pretty obvious connection. Tellingly, Amazon is selling The Myth of the Paperless Office as a Kindle eBook for $9.99, or in paper for $34.00 plus shipping.