Michael Kleper


The purpose of this paper is to: • Compare and contrast paper display with on-screen display. • Examine the state-of-the-art in electronic “paper-like” screen display technology. • Highlight the screen display technologies that are under development and most likely to affect or replace print. • Introduce the subject of printed electronics. • Present comments from leaders in the display technology field. Today’s printing and publishing process involves repurposing content, publishing through multiple channels, and applying XML coding to separate form from content. All of these operations can serve, in one way or another, to disassociate print output from other forms of publishing. The result has been that information that would have been published solely in print is also published, or is exclusively published, for on-screen display. Although on-screen publication, or the presentation of information in some form of digital display, has accounted for a reduction in the relative volume of printing, it must be kept in mind that print-on-paper is just another form of display. As such, printers manufacture displays that are composed of one or more layers of ink on a succession of sheets of pulp-based paper. The recognition that printers are display manufacturers is of critical importance is of critical importance for three reasons. First, it helps to identify where the competition with print exists. Second, it forces printers to be aware of the incredible advances that are being made in the information display field. And, third, it can lead to the identification of ways in which printers can become part of the new generation of display technologies. Printing is the foundation of our information infrastructure, carrying the content that fuels innovation, records progress, chronicles history, delivers information, inspires creativity, supports learning, provides entertainment, and creates delight and amusement. Print, as an information technology, has played an important role in every aspect of human advancement, from the Renaissance to the Space Age. Printing remains the third largest manufacturing industry in the United States, employing over 1.2 million people. Printed paper is not just a surface that holds information; it is an inexpensive, flexible display carrying a persistent message. Virtually all forms of graphic communication and visual media are expressed in some form of information display: a canvas, a wall, a photograph, a computer monitor, a television or movie screen, a PDA or cell phone display, etc. The relative ease by which readers move from reading on paper, to reading on a computer monitor or other electronic panel, and back again, attests both to the similarity of their functions and to the content that they display. Whereas electronic displays can provide highly accurate renditions of paper-based content, the reverse is not true. In addition, electronic displays are characteristically dynamic in nature, supporting animation and video, whereas the content of printed paper is immutable and permanent. Today, print has been unchained from its traditional paper foundation and been expressed through a variety of electronic channels. Its electronic format or “e-state” makes it suitable for expression in fixed formats, such as CD/DVD-ROM and other Read Only Memory forms; semi-permanent Copyright 2002 Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT - All rights reserved. forms, where it is kept on storage media; or temporary forms, where it may be displayed on a pay-per-view basis. Books that at one time would have only been produced in print, are published in proprietary and non-proprietary electronic formats for e-book readers, and for display on laptop computers and various forms of hand-held digital devices. The market for all forms of electronic books is expected to reach 26 percent by 2015.5 Virtually all major newspapers, and a majority of smaller newspapers, have editions that are delivered on the Internet (Figure 1. A survey conducted in 1999 by the Newspaper Association of America found that more than half of web users who sought news online went to newspaper web sites to find it. Print is losing its market to various forms of digital expression. An increasing proportion of the work of the Government Printing Office (GPO), for example, one of the largest printers and procurers of printed materials in the world, is going electronic. According to Richard G. Leeds, Jr., Manager, Electronic Systems Development Division, U.S. Government Printing Office: “We are driven by the printed product because that is where our revenues come from, and, actually, as the printed products have gone down and we provide more and more electronic products, basically what happens is the printed product has to cost more to produce the revenue to support these other products. We are in a lot of different areas, and we have been asked by the Supreme Court for a Real Server, RealVideo, RealAudio area, so our RealServer is up, and although print-on demand is not big, we have had different agencies and congressional entities want to have list servers, so we essentially put them up so they can distribute electronically, and although it is kind of like print on-demand, it’s not. “Over the last few years with our on-line products, because we are one of the biggest government on-line sites, where we see it, unfortunately, is not only the hits against our [printed] products, but as our revenue [declines] because the more they get used to using the electronic side, of course they want less and less printing…. Printing has really changed from disseminating ink on paper to disseminating through electronic means.”

Publication Date


Document Type

Full-Length Book


A Research Monograph of the Printing Industry Center (CIAS) at RIT

Department, Program, or Center

Printing Industry Center (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus