Printed vs Digital Yearbooks – which one is better?
A school yearbook is a book published annually to record, highlight, and commemorate the past year of a school. Some schools are starting to decrease page counts and even drop the physical yearbook altogether, in favour of digital alternatives. But, just how viable is the digital yearbook and is it a better alternative to the printed version? To answer this question, we’ve taken a look at both sides, and examined the positives and negatives of both.
Australian yearbooks function as an annual magazine for schools, objectively reporting events that occurred during the schooling year. They cover various topics including academic, sporting, extra-curricular, and student life. And of course, there are the yearbook photos, a student’s lasting memory of their classmates. Yearbook staff predominantly consist of one or two school teachers, who serve as editors in chief. Australian school yearbooks are typically created on A4 paper, featuring a softcover style front-and- back cover. In recent years, some companies have been providing Australian schools with online systems, which allow schools to create their yearbooks online.
While students live in a fast-paced, ever-evolving digital world, they appreciate the old-school permanence of a book. A decade or so ago, predictions of the hardbound book’s demise seemed valid. There were many other options available, and students were connected to their electronic devices. But by the time today’s school children are older, technology will have changed. Who knows if the digital options they have today will even be available then. Conversely, a physical book isn’t limited by those barriers. Some schools even trialled digital options, such as CD and DVD yearbooks, but didn’t experience a high enough demand. Similarly, some yearbook companies have tested online versions of printed yearbooks, but less than 5% of schools indicated an interest. Perhaps this is because students view physical yearbooks as a keepsake they can have for the rest of their life, regardless of changes in technology.
On the other hand, companies that specialise in digital photobooks are expanding into digital yearbooks. This is due to the demand that they are experiencing for digital versions of memory keepsakes. Furthermore, activities in the last months of the school year cannot be included in hardcopy yearbooks. This is due to a long turn-around from submission of print book layouts, to delivery of bound volumes. Photo sharing applications have taught people to expect their images immediately, so long book printing schedules are problematic.