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Why we’re printing the Top 100 again

Melissa Chan

Head of Brand & Content at Prosple
Gen Z preferences, sustainable paper, vegetable inks…and all the reasons why print is back

It’s official. Print is back.

This year we’re relaunching the Top 100 Print Guide. 

We can hear what you’re thinking: Wait, what? You’re printing a guide? 

We get it! Only a few years ago we thought we had given up print for good. 

But things have changed and here’s two reasons why: First, Gen Z actually prefers printed books over e-books; and second, printed media is more sustainable than ever before thanks to new technology and methods. 

Both of which convinced us (after thorough investigation) that it was the right call to bring back the Top 100 in print form. 

Let’s break it down. 

Gen Z: The Digital Natives that love print 

Much has been said about Gen Z and technology. They are, after all, the first generation born into a world of wifi, smartphones and social media. So, it would seem logical then that Gen Z would want to interact with digital products, and only digital products. Right? 


The fact is, Gen Z overwhelmingly prefers printed books to e-books. The latest research shows that’s true of almost 70 per cent of Gen Z in the US and 80 percent in the UK.

So, why does Gen Z love print so much? 

1. A tactile experience …worlds away from tech

There’s nothing like picking up a good old book or thumbing through a magazine on the couch. It’s tactile, it’s sensorial, it’s…well, not your mobile phone. 

In a world where we have multiple devices, each inundated with digital content, the printed medium is proving to be a great circuit breaker. 

There’s a reason after all why the words ‘digital detox’ - disconnecting from our devices - have trended upwards in recent years. 

Anecdotally, Gen Z has talked about the simple pleasure of reading. The lack of eye strain and the opportunity to simply remove themselves from technology…if only for a chapter or two. 

2. Focus, focus, focus 

You sit down on your laptop determined to do that thing for study or work but then Ping! There’s an email! Ping! There’s another message! And well, now that your concentration’s been broken, you may as well check out what’s happening on the news, catch up on the latest WhatsApp thread, and see if anyone’s posted anything good on TikTok…and maybe 5, 10 or 15 minutes later (if you’re lucky) you catch yourself down a rabbit hole you never intended. 

Yep, we’ve all been there. 

That’s why Gen Z is in favour of the good ol’ textbook. Remember those? Those big heavy print things with all the answers at the back? They’re still around. And thanks to Gen Z, they’re here to stay. 

Research shows Gen Z prefers their learning materials to be printed. It allows them to be more focused and engaged - facilitating greater in-depth reading compared to simply skimming online text…or getting distracted by other things.  

3. News is harder to fake in print 

Anyone can be a publisher on the Internet. And that’s a good thing…mostly. With fake news rampant and deep fakes rapidly improving, knowing what and who to believe is one of the great challenges of our time. 

Fed up with questionable media sources, Gen Z values credibility more than ever. That’s where print has an advantage. Printed materials by virtue of being, well, printed, are simply more likely to be produced by established and trustworthy publishers. 

4. Cutting through the (digital) noise 

Every time we open a website or an app, we are inundated with digital content. There’s a video on just about everything you could think of - and then some. For marketers wanting to cut through the noise (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them), print offers a unique opportunity to stand out amongst the clutter. 

So, Gen Z is clearly showing a preference for printed books - but what about all that paper? Surely, that’s an environmental concern?

Print: A new era of sustainability 

When we were entertaining the thought of revisiting print at Prosple, we wanted to make sure we understood and implemented best sustainability practices. After all, given sustainability is one of the issues that Gen Z cares most about, it would be imprudent to do otherwise. 

We did our research and found that: 

1. Paper printing is just not how it used to be 

You think paper, you think trees wasted. But that’s not the case anymore, especially with sustainable printing. 

We are proud to announce that all of Prosple’s print guides will be printed with FSC-certified paper, meaning any trees harvested for paper are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. 

FSC stands for The Forest Stewardship Council, a leading independent global not for profit that supports responsible forestry. Their certifications are widely recognised across industry. You can read more about their practical solutions and sustainable practices here.  

2. Innovative printing solutions = lower emissions 

Another concern about printing is its energy intensive nature. Our research shows that many sustainable printing companies have made significant technological advancements in this area.  

For example, the use of vegetable-based dyes instead of oil-based or petroleum ones, has revealed multiple benefits across the value chain including less synthetics chemicals in the inks and during the print process, as well as an easier recycling process. Alternative bleaching technologies have also been developed.

Innovations such as these have meant that the paper industry today is one of the lowest industrial greenhouse gas emitters

3. Plus, sharing is caring (for others and the environment) 

You know how it is. You find something great to read, you pass it on to a friend you think might enjoy it. And it’s no different for the Top 100 Guides. 

In our past discussions with university career services and students, we've heard that our print guides are typically passed on to peers or read by multiple students. This reuse and repurposing of our guides has meant anecdotally the average life cycle of a print guide spans multiple years. 

This reuse and repurposing of our guides has meant anecdotally the average life cycle of a print guide spans multiple years. 


At Prosple, we take our mission ‘to help every student get the best possible start to their career’ very seriously. This means not being afraid to reverse decisions we made in the past - and to bring back to the Top 100 Print Guide!

In relaunching our print guides, we’ve considered how to do this in the most environmentally conscious way possible, and we are excited to have shared our learnings with you. 

We know the Top 100 content is invaluable to students. And we know that with a printed copy, today’s Gen Z students will get even more mileage out of it. Now that’s a win, not just for us here at Prosple but for all our employers and university partners and educators. 

So, keep an eye out for the Top 100 Print Guide - we can’t wait to share it with you! 

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