Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 3, 2010 9:11 PM

Print Is Not Dead

We tend to lump all industries who rely on print in the same (soon-to-be-extinct) boat as the newspaper industry.

Those who have been playing along at home know that we're not quite ready to order the tombstone on newspapers (or the print industry), but the world is shifting, moving and changing at a rapid pace. Don't believe me? Check out the upcoming digital edition of Wired Magazine (Is This The Future Of Publishing?). Along with that, Samir Husni (also known as Mr. Magazine), posted this interesting initiative from the magazine industry: YouTube - Magazines - The Power To Print.

Be hopeful. Be cynical.

Everything is "with" not "instead of". It's stupid to think that Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc... is the reason that the magazine industry feels that it has to defend what it is (along with some interesting stats). I love magazines. I love the content, design, look and feel (and yes, even the advertising), but there is no doubt that the magazine industry is going through tremendous change and flux (even with the great numbers they're pimping in this video). The opportunity is there for the magazine industry (much like it is/was for the music industry, newspaper industry, film industry, book publishing industry, etc...). The question (as is always the case) is:

Will the magazine industry be able to see these New Media channels as an opportunity to evolve and grow?

(side note: on Samir's blog post, Start spreading the news: Print is NOT dead..., there was a comment from Jen: "If this story is best told in print, why are they telling it on a YouTube video?")

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Fraser
    Fraser

    Well, I haven't seen the whole campaign, but I love the logo! Hard to imagine a world without magazines, but maybe a world without so many bad magazines? The print world will shrink or grow to match available ad dollars, so maybe that means we have eight Weddings magazines instead of 15.

    Reply
  • Posted by Brian White
    Mitch Joel

    I represent the tail end of baby boomers who have transitioned from print to electronic and I take comfort in the old while embraceing the new. The down side about print is that it's dated by the time it reaches me and therefore I lean more and more on the immediacy of digital media everyday.

    Reply
    • I think your point is key. And it may not even be about people "needing" to be constantly up to date or cutting edge; gnawing at snackable content, following every meme, or otherwise.

      Print magazines will be aggregators. The Readers Digests, if you will, of encapsulating what people are vibing online. They will also serve as outlets for longform content. You won't catch me reading Foreign Affairs in front of a computer screen. I put my spectacles on and sink into the couch for the wild ride that is global politics.

      That being said, a lot of print mags in my industry (music) have collapsed. Damn shame, but that's just a funding issue. Advertisers are being rather frugal across the board, to their own detriment I would argue.

      Reply
  • Posted by stevemochel
    Mitch Joel

    I'm one of those people who need to go out for lunch everyday - not a fancy lunch, but something out of the office. And I always bring something to read with me.

    If you haven't read the recent Esquire article on Roger Ebert, you've missed an incredible piece that shows why magazines will never die.

    Sure - breaking news will always be more accessible on the web and twitter, but great stories will always prevail in print.

    Reply
    • Posted by Steve Faguy
      Mitch Joel

      "If you haven't read the recent Esquire article on Roger Ebert, you've missed an incredible piece that shows why magazines will never die."

      I don't know about you, but I read that piece online, and so did a heck of a lot of other people. There is nothing about this piece that would not have been there had this been an online-only publication.

      There's confusion here between content and medium. There will always be need for good, original content. But even after watching this video it's not clear if the magazine executives expect the medium itself (the printed magazine) to last.

      Reply
  • Posted by Wendy Greene
    Mitch Joel

    I liked the video.. a new twist on the message regarding the issues facing the evolution of media. What resonated with me was what one of the gentlemen said: any media would continue to be relevant as long as it continued to evolve and provide an irresplacable value.. I think that's key.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rick Wolff
    Mitch Joel

    And that's to say nothing about photography. Yes, RGB has the better color range, but a well reproduced photo on a printed page is an art form all its own. A monitor can't come close.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bob Nunn
    Mitch Joel

    They come across as old. And desperate. I also suspect they're playing with facts. Yes I understand 18-34s read more magazines than older folks - they always have. But are 18-34s reading magazines more than they did 10 years ago? I like my print. But this is bad communication.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ryan Guthrie
    Mitch Joel

    So much to say, so little time. Just a few quick thoughts. Is it the paper format or the relevant content that is up for discussion here? There will always be a market for relevant content.

    Speaking as a baby boomer and a long-time subscriber & reader of many paper magazines and also as business owner constantly looking for efficiencies, I would not be investing my money in the magazine (paper) publishing business. In fact, over the past couple of years I have cancelled most of my magazine subscriptions. This has reduced from about 20 per month to about 6.

    Certainly, there will always be a market, but it is declining, hence the defenders of the industry showcased in this video. With the ever increasing internet access through wireless PDA's, and easy access to this content, the days of paper (even for the bathroom reader) are limited. And...no longer will we have to flip through pages of mindless, wasteful, advertising to find the content we are looking for (yes, also spoken as an advertiser).

    I foresee that magazines will re-deploy their writer talent to subscription-based internet "magazines". Readers that are loyal to or willing to pay for particular content of that which might not otherwise be available "free" would have to subscribe. After all, it is not so much the format (paper) that is of importance, but rather the transfer of ideas and thoughts. If right now magazine content was available electronically AND everyone who currently carries a cell phone instead had an inexpensive hand-held device (coming) to subscribe and read this content, where do you think the paper magazine business would be? That's my .02 worth. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Posted by Peter
      Mitch Joel

      Right on! The fact that the heads of these major print corporations felt it necessary to create and participate in an ad like this suggests how bad the situation really is. (I can only imagine how much the ad and everything around it cost.)
      Content is king and fewer people are interested in getting it in magazine/print format.
      Shame on the corporate talking heads for obfuscating.

      Really nice logo!

      Reply
  • Posted by Art
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting video and numbers. I don't know that there wrong. I can recall a time not long ago when the personal computer first became mainstream and everyone said the book industry was dead and then it didn't happen. Fast forward a good 15 plus years later and we find the Kindle. The Kindle finaly addressed the issue that most of us had with digital reading - monitors and the toll they take on our eyes but still we buy books. So is it the technology or is it the habbit. I'd say a bit of both. I personal much rather hold a book in my hand over a Kindle but that's just me. I find that if I'm going on a flight then yes I'll take a Kindle over a hardcover but if Im getting ready for bed give me my hardcover. 

    I'd aruge that the mistake most people make in compairing the music indrustry to the publishing industry is that they forget the music is heard and we can hear with our eyes closed hands tired and hanging upsidedown from a tree, but reading requires us to use more then just one of our senses. To read, we first have to pick up the book/kindle and then use our eyes and hands (mouse, fingers turning pages) so theres a bit more involvement to reading then listening to music. Songs have always just required listening where as reading for the since forever has required us to turn the page hold the book etc. So maybe there right it's not dieing it's just one more choice. If someone where to look on my book shelf they'd be hardpress to find a paperback book, I don't like them my personal choice is the hardcover book. 

    I think technology is giving us one more choice, and i love it. Im sure when i get the ipad I'll buy a few of my favorite books online but hopefully and I think possibly there will always choice of the printered word. 

    I know the video was about magazines but i'd aruge same thing new tech means new choices not death to the old. 

    The music distribution was the main problem lables couldn't get there head around where as with the wrtten word industry has always been different. 

    Remember the library books were FREE but we still bought them. Music was never free (radio dosent count cause playlist was never ours) 

    Keep up the great work Mitch 

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I agree with Bob and Ryan.

    Plus, print is un-eco friendly and not a responsible medium to communicate information.

    Haven't subscribed to a print magazine in at least 15 years and used to buy about 10 subscriptions a month for about 2 decades.

    One last point, print can't do video.

    The argument in the video is ridiculous.

    Reply
  • Posted by Eric Berman
    Mitch Joel

    So many great opportunities for digital mags there's no way they aren't realized by some smart ppl in the publishing biz. Great articles make me want to read more immediately. Digital offers so much more. And interactive ads will motivate advertisers and stream new rev. I'm looking forward to consuming everything on a nice new ipad. I'm also looking forward to my fat glossy vanity fair getting stuffed through the mail slot and landing with a thud next month.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Miller
    Mitch Joel

    I agree that magazines won't die (well, not all of them), just change. Don't love the video. Feels too desperate, too scared. I think to really survive one step would be to stop calling themselves the magazine industry. That's just a channel, not the real product. Any sucessful "record" companies out there?

    Reply
  • Posted by John McDonald
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with a few of the comments, that video is desperate and it is ironic that they put
    it on Youtube and not solely in a magazine. Those people in the video reminded me of old executives that are in the travel industry that are still saying the Internet has not affected travel. I agree that magazines will never fully die just like books, people do like to cozy up with a magazine or a book and read. However they also like to cozy up and watch TV while they multi-task and read on their laptop. These executives have to accept that we are in a radically changing era of media and they are better to adapt rather than fight and say the Internet is not going to kill magazines. It would be interesting to ask a 18-28 year old how many magazines they have bought in the last year. My bet is not a lot. My bet is they read more online.

    Reply
  • Posted by Marc
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with Wendy Greene the key point in the video is this: media will survive 'as long as the media continue to evolve and provide an irreplaceable value'.

    Sure, some magazines will fold, but there are many magazines that should probably have never been published - those lacking in strong editorial direction, the ones that are all ads and no content, or all glitz and no purpose.

    But the same is surely also true for thousands of blogs, and bloggers with dollar signs in their eyes and little to say.

    As to why tell the story on Youtube when it's best told in print - not the strongest closing statement, but it does speak to 'continue to evolve'.

    Reply
  • Posted by Nick
    Mitch Joel

    I doubt print will die but it will need to evolve. I feel like magazines will have to create more compelling opportunities for reader involvement to compete with the draw of social media. Magazines need to engage more, AND, they can use digital platforms to do so.

    Reply
  • Posted by Karen
    Karen

    Readership will go down but not disappear. There is still something satisfying about turning pages and keeping copies. Those who want them will still want them. But maybe they should find a new niche for the magazine. Find new creative ways to grab a new market to make them commercially sustainable. Use website to get people to buy the magazines.
    Video told but didn't show. Made it look pathetic instead. Should have come out with video once they have something new to offer.

    Reply
  • Posted by Michael Lupescu
    Mitch Joel

    I agree with the guy in the video who said something like "as long as print media will continue to evolve and provide something irreplaceable...".

    If the "new" is truly better than the "old", in time, people will shift. In this particular case, I personally don't think the "new" is better.

    I don't read magazines that much, but I love books and I don't think I can ever read a whole a book on a screen, no matter what size. I think books or magazines just feel like the right format for reading a large amount of content. When it comes to news or shorter articles, I love what the internet and smart-phones have to offer, I visit news sites a few times daily on both my computer and iPhone.

    There's just something about print that cannot be replicated, there's an experience, or a feeling that's present when holding and reading a physical book. Digital books or magazines definitely have some convenience factors to consider, but when it comes to quality, I chose print.

    I'm pretty sure print will be with us for many years to come.

    Strange but, lately I like designing for print slightly better than designing for the screen.

    Reply
  • Posted by Aarni Heiskanen
    Mitch Joel

    There is one thing that a printed magazine or book provides that is hard to achieve online. It is the feeling of control and tactility. You can hold the entire issue in your hands, you know how many pages you have read, how much are left, and so on. You control the experience more than you are able to do online.

    Magazines also have a "tactile personality": a choice of paper, size, surface quality, smell, and thickness. It's a physical experience.

    It was interesting to hear comments about the coming iPad. Those who had a chance to touch it praised the way it felt in their hands. So, even if we have moved to virtual publishing, all of our senses haven't.

    Reply
  • Posted by Sheila Averbuch
    Mitch Joel

    They had me up until 'we're gonna tell the story in print,' a comment that sounds peevish, especially because the 'story' will hopeful tell in some detail how (and whether) they intend to adapt.

    I adore magazines -- my weakness is gardening mags, and a popular gardening personality in the UK, James Alexander Sinclair, has been musing on the panic (http://bit.ly/dmpZQi) among those glossies. I want glossies to endure and agree with Fraser above - there will be a winnowing and that's ok (titles like 'Fine Gardening' are doing a great job of embracing social/web channels.) But publishers will struggle ideologically to move away from one-way communication and a vicelike grip on what content will be displayed, and accept that the people's voices don't need to be confined to the wacky fringe of the letters page.

    I want magazines to figure out how to survive, and tell each other, as this video suggests they'll do. If they die, their professional presentation and selection of content will be lost and their talent scatter to the winds to rif on their own blogs -- and I don't think they'll offer as much value as solo artists.

    Sheila Averbuch - ENN

    Reply
  • It does feel (just a little) like a lot of the comments are around the idea/concept that we just like the way a magazine "feels"... and that makes me wonder if that's just because we haven't "felt" something different/better yet? Much in the same way, people used to say that they liked to physically hold something (an album, CD sleeve, etc...) while listening to music or the way people said, "I would never type with my thumbs!"

    Reply
    • Posted by Dan Schwartz
      Mitch Joel

      I like magazines as a consumer, but I think one of the CEO's said it correctly in order for a product to maintain relevancy in has to deliver value to the user of the product. I personally think the value is in the content and editing of the magazine. The ads are necessary to keep the model afloat (for the moment) until a new revenue stream is identified. The format "print" is what is perhaps on its way out but I think the heart and soul of magazines will remain. One more point I agree with you Mitch I don't think the technology is there yet to replace the extreme usability of the current format: rip pages out, turn it sideways, forward, backward, dogeared for later, pass to friend, keep in bathroom etc... My 2 cents

      Reply
    • Posted by Chris Lorenc
      Mitch Joel

      It's an even bigger question, Mitch—and, yes, how something "feels"—how it does and/or doesn't involve all our senses is important.

      What almost everyone fails to recognize is that each new tool is simultaneously a loss as well. From oral culture to written glyphs to written language to print...and on and on. Yes, new advantages at each step—but also losses. Uncompensated losses. The arc is away from tactile immediacy in the sensuous world. This is a big loss. David Abrams writes about it in "The Spell of the Sensuous," for example.

      The really big—the really overarching—cultural question is: how to simultaneously use new tools while acknowledging and compensating in other ways for what is being lost. Jung said this more than fifty years ago. "We haven't learned to compensate the earth," he said, "and so we are destroying ourselves."

      One great example of this loss is the "new" rubric of the "tribe." What are people so desperate to try to recover? Exactly the sensibilities that the evolution of their new tools have been systematically driving out. It's good that social media is articulating itself in these terms. But it's not good that it doesn't see the full enormity of what's been lost.

      P.S. is there a way (that I'm missing now) to subscribe to comments on your blog?

      Reply
  • Posted by Dave Wirsching
    Mitch Joel

    I'm not sure that change will kill the magazine industry, but it will "cull the herd." The weaker players without a unique or valuable product will find it more and more difficult to survive. As many have said before, the pressure will force those left standing to evolve their economic and distribution models.

    Do I think there is a future for periodical journalism - absolutely. Will it be like it was last year? Absolutely not.

    Reply
  • Posted by Todd Beavis
    Mitch Joel

    Nothing will ever replace the sanctity and excitement of taking a personal moment to sit and immerse myself into my favorite magazine or a great book. I am in love with the new digital media but balance is equally as important as the thirst for knowledge. A good analogy I like to use is that is digital media is like drinking a sports drink while on the field of play but a good book/ magazine is like sipping a fine liquor. There is a benefit to both mediums.

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  • Posted by Lisa Hickey
    Mitch Joel

    So, what is it you like about a printed magazine, Mitch?
    The “feel” of it? The ability to read longer forms of information on the go?

    Perhaps there’s a not-too-distant future where cell phones are of a softer material that unfolds like a newspaper does. Voila! Your content, delivered in a form you like, wherever you are.
    As readily available as a 19th century handkerchief was to a nose.

    But now that content has been curated to your liking (through your social networks, your ability to sign up for pieces of the larger publications and your one-off blogs delivered to your in-box). And that content comes to you in a form you can immediately share with the rest of the world. And actually act on the information.

    Sure, books are better (right now) on paper, and paintings are better (right now) on canvas.

    But the premise behind magazines – well-written content, beautifully designed, timely and relevant to me – if that is never delivered to me in paper format again, I won’t miss it one iota.

    Reply
    • I like going into stores and flipping through them. I like the design. I like the advertising (true!) and I like the serendipity and surprise of not knowing (or choosing) what I am going to see next.

      Reply
  • Interesting video and comments, but this is wishful thinking. Of course print is dead. But when a medium dies it takes a long, long time. There is no room in the future for hard copy magazines that take a week or a month to present their content in a format that has be mailed or displayed on a rack.

    Information moves too fast for that. Tastes are already shifting to the Internet. Pew released a study this week that shows that U.S. consumers already are getting most of their news from the Web. This trend will continue.

    I'm reading a Sherlock Holmes novel on my iPhone. I have apps for NPR, the New York Times and the Atlantic on my iPhone as well. I subscribe via RSS to most of the publications I read. With the advent of the Kindle and the iPad - there isn't going to be a need for hard copy magazines. It's expensive and not as convenient. There's limitless possibilities for multimedia and interactivity with digital that aren't possible with print.

    But are newspapers and magazines dead? Of course not. We all still crave great, interesting, compelling content. They will continue to exist - just in a new format with a new business model.

    But print is, indeed, deader than a doornail. It just hasn't fully realized it yet.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeffrey Luke
    Mitch Joel

    Magazines, because they are not as time dependent as newspapers, will continue to thrive. People still admire, and long for, great writing - and the extra time magazines have to cultivate it, is why they will continue to survive the Internet.

    And, yes, they will have to embrace and be a part of the new media - but print versions will be around for a very long time.

    Until I can roll up my laptop and stuff it in my back pocket, magazines and other print media will survive.

    Reply
  • Posted by Tricia
    Mitch Joel

    *some* magazines will never die, but some clearly are! We will make room for new media types, but there is a cost to others. At the end of the day, ads keep magazines alive, not quality content. If they're not getting enough eyeballs, they're not getting enough ads. Magazines cost in content + pulp, paper, ink, trucks, stands... Some mediums cost in content +... wait - that's it!

    Reply
  • Posted by kitestring
    Mitch Joel

    I love print. I love holding it. I love smelling it. I love the design and the colours. It exists on the same playing field as me. I can touch, feel and read.

    I've been reading magazines since I was 4 years old. When "Owl" arrived at my door, I couldn't wait to open in it. Then there was "Disney Adventures".

    In highschool I remember getting my "Entertainment Weekly" every Monday and just sitting in my room enjoying what Julie Roberts had to say or discovering what Tim Burton was up to next.

    Magazines won't die. And that makes me happy.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    What's interesting to me is the presentation, and while I do agree with their concepts and their desire to get to the truth, I do have the numbers perspective ringing in my ears.

    If all that they say in their presentation is in fact true, then when we all read about reductions in earnings and consolidation of the markets where is the disjoint. If their revenues (note, not profits, but revenues) are all being reported as down, is it that their (the magazine companies operating costs) are up thus affecting their business? I would think that more people subscribing and reading means that their profits are maintaining and the sales are going up. So why are they all reporting losses?

    I know it’s all probably far more complicated then how I am presenting it, but when one group is taking a hit and another seems to be soaring, but they share the same audience, it’s natural to think that one is affecting the other.

    Not trying to be negative here, but trying to work through the math. I do believe that the statement of the web supporting the magazines (or more specifically the advertisers in the magazines) is a fair statement, but one that speaks to the reinforcement of the message.

    Reply
  • Posted by Leo Ferraro
    Mitch Joel

    See that video, it's going to be part of the new medium, the new way we are consuming content.

    Content which is Real-Time and not out dated.
    Print will keep declining unless they find a new way to monetize.

    Think of the rich experience, with relevant, real-time links to other resources to deliver a messagge or story ....

    "M" in magazine now means MultiMedia Mags;-)
    ciao

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I have to agree with what Steve Faguy said.

    Many are confusing how we receive the media with the content itself.

    We really need to see how the iPad and future similar gadgets affect the publishing industry. Printing and distributing a newspaper/magazine accounts for a large amount of a newspaper's/magazine's costs.

    The economic downturn already caused some newspapers to publish only online (Christian Science Monitor for example). Receiving the media electronically also allows the reader to experience print and video side by side. The generations that are growing up receiving magazine and news content online are going to be experiencing this new form of delivery very soon as well.

    Any publisher that can reduce costs and use the savings to deliver better content will think about moving printed media online.

    More readers, less paper...that is the way this is going, no matter what the publishers want to tell us

    Reply
  • Posted by Barb
    Mitch Joel

    I don't think magazines are dead.

    If magazines embrace the new digital channels, there are some exciting untapped opportunities that they could harness. There would not be static content anymore. The new digital age for magazines opens up possibilities including measuring consumer engagement, interactive graphics, embedded videos, apps, ability to post comments and questions and more.

    Yes it means there will be new revenue models for magazines, but the opportunity is there to capture the imagination of readers and as Mitch has said "the world is shifting and changing" at a rapid pace.

    Reply
  • Posted by Andy Jones
    Mitch Joel

    This is only one person's experience but here goes.

    I get one magazine, SI every week. It turns up on a Friday but issued on a Monday or Tuesday I think. I read it cover to cover over the weekend and into the following week. I often know what happened in the game they preview because it occurred on the weekend but read their opinion anyway. After reading an article, I will use the internet to see what the current state of play is with a particular player or team.

    My point is that some magazines are time sensitive and so the content could be enhanced. Just imagine if I could get this content on my iPad and have it linked to the current information including video of the latest event. I would also get the "magazine" when it is issued each week and not have to wait 3 or 4 days for it to come in the mail!

    I would vote (and pay) for online magazines with video, audio, photos and text.

    Reply
  • Posted by J. Matthew Riva
    Mitch Joel

    These are special times. Technology in the way it is integrated in our lives has again returned to its rightful place as lifestyle assistant. We no longer want to see technology as an end in and of itself, we no longer want the new best thing but instead want the next most helpful thing. Like post WW2 America when countless businesses sought to sell a more mechanized way of life to the masses, now the masses demand what might seem like magic. This means that a consumer driven evolution, and the focus, of technology will change the very technology that is being developed from a purpose POV. Humans are social animals we don't want to be alone, it is no accident that the emergence of social media has taken hold, and that manners and decorum are found within this media that we seldom see in the real world. Aside from the sociological ramifications of these developments, and to answer the question is Print Media Dead, the real question that should be asked is not one of extinction but of evolution. What is valuable and valid enough about it to survive, what are the traits of Printed Media that should survive from a Darwinian perspective? That is what is really going on here, evolution, survival of the fittest, man imitating Nature. Printed Media has much to offer, it is tactile, real, has evolved over centuries to become a mature, effective, and powerful tool with a very strong understanding of UX and aesthetics. Brands or species have developed and there is no way the online world is as evolved as the printed world. Not even close. These brands have become interwoven with our world we chose to construct, our identity is tied to them. TV is also part of this evolution as what we are really taking about here with the iPad, an appliance NOT a device as it is all about content and not hardware, is a mergence of the web, TV and Print. This is the evolution. this is the magic we consumers want. No Print will never go away completely. These Media sources have an audience but don't know how to talk to them the way the online world does. The logical evolution is one of mergence and that is exactly what we are seeing. The Wired interactive magazine is the perfect example, as is the SI mockup that can also be found on uTube. It is also important to note that the evolution of Comics as seen at TED conference a few years back is also now seeming to be very prophetic indeed. the missing piece was the appliance that could make this new media form/hybrid viable. The Kindle was a first step as far as proof of concept from a demographical analysis POV, that older people would embrace this kind of appliance in addition to a notebook, but it failed from a practicality standpoint. Now aside from the iPad which seems to be the first device capable of supporting the kind of interactivity and display of that media people want, Apple also realized that the device/appliance development was not enough, that they also needed a new virtual store to make that data accessible in a more HUMAN way. They gave the power back to the media outlets themselves that Amazon had stolen away after a hole in their Net Book Agreement in '97 by acting as a marketer and not a publisher like Amazon did. All of these development have happened to serve a function. This function is a SEEMLESS integration in to the way we live our lives, not the other way around. I think we will be seeing more and more that the old world will merge with the new world in fantastic ways. I am sure books will still be printed and Mags will decorate coffee tables for Centuries to come, but the days of newspaper stands and magazine racks are over, as are the days of the TV being a different media source from the home computer.

    Reply
  • Posted by Lorraine
    Mitch Joel

    Over two thousand years ago, Plato railed against a new technology. He feared the medium would destroy cultural memory, wipe out rich oral traditions and weaken scholarship.

    The technology? Writing.

    I agree with the video speaker who noted that new media won't obliterate existing media.

    Good media, of all stripes, is dynamic and adaptive. Digital media gives print the kick it needs to evolve, improve and innovate.

    We'll see tons of exciting digital content in the future. And WAY less print. But print will survive--and its surviving strain will be informative, engaging and effective.

    Reply
    • Posted by Chris Lorenc
      Chris Lorenc

      Lorraine, did you ever consider the ways in which Plato was right?

      What almost everyone fails to realize is that every new tool is simultaneously a loss as well. Yes, one may well argue that a new tool does enough things better that overall it overrides the loss. But still, the loss is there—and unless we compensate for it in other ways in our lives, the wound is grievous.

      And the loss of immediacy, the loss of tactile experience of the sensuous world and our own bodies, the loss of communal memory—all accompanied the transition from a primarily oral culture to a written one.

      Want proof?

      2000+ years after Plato wrote, people are still groping to find and recover some sense of that "tribe" that Plato warned would be sacrificed.

      Reply
      • Posted by Lorraine
        Mitch Joel

        Yes, Chris, I've thought about the cultural and psychic loss that occurred when writing displaced education/art based on memorization and oral tradition.

        Plato feared writing would dupe students into thinking they’d acquired wisdom when they’d merely mastered rapid information recall. Isn't that what we're experiencing now to the nth degree with the Internet's information deluge?

        But, as you say, the loss is somewhat compensated by a gain: Writing made culture portable, shareable and "viral." It democratized education, making it available to many more than the elite.

        And it preserved art--The Iliad, The Odyssey and more--that might have been lost to future generations.

        But with great loss, yes.

        Reply
        • Posted by Chris Lorenc
          Chris Lorenc

          What a thoughtful, knowledgeable reply. Thank you, Lorraine. I find so few people disposed (or able?) to entertain the question of the ambivalence of each new technological "step" we make. And yet if we ignore the question, we'll be dis-owning essential aspects of ourselves in really destructive ways.

          There aren't tech-fixes for everything, are there? And even good, useful things—in fact, particularly they—leave huge shadows in their wake when we totalize them.

          Reply
  • Posted by Steve Waxman
    Mitch Joel

    First the music industry launched a campaign trying to scare people to keep them from downloading music. Then the film industry produced trailers preying on people's guilt saying that downloading films will ensure lost jobs for gaffers, lighting directors and best boys. Now the magazine industry trots out these Brooks Brothers and Chanel suits. JUST MAKE A BETTER PRODUCT EVERYONE!!!

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  • Posted by Fabrice Calando
    Mitch Joel

    Great post! You can definitely see the fear in the execs' eyes. They're not afraid that the magazine will die: Radio has changed, TV has changed and magazines will change...not die, but change. What I think they are afraid of is revenue. Their content is expensive and their ad dollars are leaving for a “new” medium that is cheap and measurable. This is to convince advertisers that magazines are still cool, young and that they embrace the social web. Their real issue is that their ads revenues are shrinking and and they do not want/can’t find new revenue models.

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  • Posted by Debbie
    Mitch Joel

    Great post, Mitch. As so many have already pointed out, I think the real message is not that print is dead or dying. It's that the print industry is changing. Through the years, our media options have all learned to play nice together in the sandbox. We are simply amid a time in history where print is in the process of proving its place in that sandbox - right alongside every other medium.

    Recently, I asked readers of my blog to finish the sentence "If Print Were Really Dead, There Would Be No. . ." There were some wonderful (both humorous and passionate) comments posted.

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  • Posted by Martin McEwen
    Mitch Joel

    Some boring and slightly editorialized context for this:

    - Early 2009 saw the collapse of one of the largest US wholesalers, and the bankruptcy of another. It took months to clear up, and thousands of retailers had their supply disrupted.

    - The economy was less than awesome in 2009, and consumers were changing their shopping habits. Suddenly people were shopping at No Frills instead of Loblaws, and taking public transit instead of driving, but the magazines didn't follow instantly. This will improve as the retailer-distributor data links improve, but it hurt sales last year.

    - As with any industry, when times are bad you cut costs and cut risk. The number of specials was down last year, which hurt sales overall. And none of the big players dared to launch anything significant.

    - Magazines are underpriced, especially North American subscriptions. When the market goes sour, they have a hard time recovering their production and distribution costs.

    - It was a crummy year for the type of news that drives magazine sales. MJ's death and the Jon & Kate divorce were about it for 2009.

    I think the personal branding/badging element of a magazine is important as well. You can tell a lot more about someone by the magazine or book they are reading in the airport or subway than someone staring at a screen. And that makes life a bit more interesting.

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  • Posted by Craig Baerwaldt
    Mitch Joel

    Wired Magazine is the only current print magazine that I would put money on to be around in ten years. I know there will be others still around, but that would be the only title I have any confidence in.

    Why do you need to talk about why you are great? Why not innovate and show us why you are great. I rarely buy a magazine these days, post iPad it will probably drpp significantly.

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  • Posted by Jacquie Driver
    Mitch Joel

    I don't think print is dead - it's just going through a bit of a reorganization :)

    What I think is happening now is that the web is allowing us to actually track who and what articles are attracting readership, and followers, and then build print around those people - in the end, I think that it will still be ok, but not with the same major players.

    For example - I love Seth Godin, read him online all the time, but when he comes out with a book, I'm the first to buy it, even though I know that 80% of the info is available online.

    The bigger shift here is towards the ability to see and track beyond sales and into attention - it makes it more difficult in the short term, but long term we should find better quality work.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    It’s all about the experience and as we all know experience - along with value - is comprised of many subjective components.

    I have the privilege of being an adjunct at a New York City university teaching new venture development. I am consistently amazed at the number of young people who look to produce innovative experiences within well established stable industries. The key point of the video and comments above is that people will adopt the mix of forms to best suit their individual preferences. As a tail end Baby Boomer I want to be able to sort my information electronically then determine what is my preferred source based on factors like content length, location (home/work/commute), etc.

    I love to retool business models so I’m in the space and looking forward to the fun.

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  • Posted by Susan Doré
    Mitch Joel

    I find it hard to believe the tactile experience of newspapers and magazine will ever die. They will continue to morph, adapt and deliver stepped-up content in online and published platforms…and those newspapers/magazines that can do that effectively, will survive.

    But the vertical experience of reading these mediums online, while convenient on-the-fly, can’t replace the simple pleasure of a Sunday paper in bed or a great magazine in the tub.

    Reply
  • Posted by serena
    Mitch Joel

    I don't think magazines are dead.

    If magazines embrace the new digital channels, there are some exciting untapped opportunities that they could harness. There would not be static content anymore. The new digital age for magazines opens up possibilities including measuring consumer engagement, interactive graphics, embedded videos, apps, ability to post comments and questions and more.

    Yes it means there will be new revenue models for magazines, but the opportunity is there to capture the imagination of readers and as Mitch has said "the world is shifting and changing" at a rapid pace.
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  • Posted by Taraonar
    Mitch Joel

    Agree with the video. There will be always a niche for magazines. People like traditions. The number of press will most likely reduce significantly, but the ones that will remain will be the best. Natural selection. :)

    Reply
  • Posted by Simon Hall
    Mitch Joel

    Brilliant - they use youtube to put an argument across about how good print is.

    Reply
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