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More Bad News for Print

March 13th, 2012 by Bob Bly

Kindle and Nook already threaten to make paper books obsolete. Now magazines face the same danger.

According to an article in BtoB (3/12/12, p. 4), Penton Media’s  technology media group will stop printing all its magazines. These publications will exist solely as digital editions.

In February Ziff Davis Enterprise took a similar step with its print titles.

I like sitting on the couch or in the backyard reading magazines. Now it looks as if this pleasure may soon vanish.

Stop the world; I want to get off.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 at 1:06 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

60 responses about “More Bad News for Print”

  1. Joseph Ratliff said:

    I think it’s a foolish move on a print magazine publisher’s part to end a print version.

    Why not serve both markets? Why not add value to the print subscription to encourage subscription to that version?

  2. Mike Holman said:

    I think that eventually we’ll all have magazine-ready e-readers and will just get used to using those around the pool/garden.

    @Joseph – I suspect it is the customers who are deciding not the buy the print version that is motivating the move.

  3. David Bley said:

    I would like to mitigate this cloud that is hanging over print. I don’t see print going away, I see it changing. I no longer have room to store all of the books that I like to have at hand, especially since I now prefer large-print editions. Electronic editions solve both of these issues for me and I can carry them with me on a pen drive or laptop.

    I also have a dream that no written material or music recording need ever go out of print and that everyone who has access to the internet can read or listen.

    There are still favorites that I would like to own in an print edition that is bound using sewn signatures with a stamped leather cover, just to have an heirloom quality book that I can pass on. Paper still rates as the archival material with the longest life.

    A lot of what Penton publishes are trade magazines mostly related to engineering and manufacturing. These magazines are paid for by advertisers. With the shrink in manufacturing and engineering in the US, these magazines don’t have enough advertisers to pay for a print magazine. These magazines have shrunk considerably in page count. Digital is the only way these publishers can control cost.

    I personally cannot afford to read all of the magazines that I would like to. I have to read the magazines at the public library.

  4. Bob Bly said:

    David: Your analysis of why magazines are going away is correct. Editorial pages are proportional in number to ad pages. With advertisers using digital instead of print ads, the magazines are getting thinner and thinner to the point where it is absurd to publish them as paper.

  5. Bob Bly said:

    Update: An article in the 3/14/12 NY Times reported that after 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica is eliminating its print edition and will be a digital-only publication. The last print edition, 2010, contains 32 volumes and weighs 129 pounds.

  6. Kerry Stackpole said:

    Not so fast, folks. Magazines are more prolific than ever. There are at least four magazines that have circulation in excess of 20 million copies per month. Time is looking thin, but People magazine sells millions of copies. Niche magazines are growing faster than ever. Walk through any newsstand and you will find hundreds of new publications, addressing market niches from Backyard Rabbits to Civil War Reenactor. It’s all there and in print.

  7. Bob James said:

    There’s hope. I just discovered a new print magazine at SXSW. Social Media Monthly, no less.

  8. Kelja said:

    World is changing all too fast. Always did change but used to at a rate where we barely noticed.

    The next thing to fade away: Libraries. They will become a luxury that cities and towns can’t afford. Happening right now – our local library is beautiful, and well-used. It has an enormous DVD collection which gets much attention. Plenty of computers you can use and as I walk around I see them being used – for gameplaying, YouTube video, email, chat. The written work seems so archaic.

    Libraries have become refuges for the homeless and monuments to a politician’s vanity. Politicians rarely, if ever, step into one.

    I can see where this is going.

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Public libraries may be fading fast, but university libraries are thriving. At my younger son’s college, he and his classmates go there to study all the time.

  10. Zahra Brown said:

    Great news when you’re an author. Publishing as never been so accessible. Finally the publishing industry has progressed like other industries. People might be sad now, but then they try e-readers they don’t go back.

    If people want to stay in the past, fine, but is this just publishing? Do these people have ipods? Shouldn’t they have CDs or vinyl? Do these people go to theatres or watch Youtube videos? Do these people send letters or emails?

    Paper will NEVER leave. It’s changing, though. We’re heading towards print-on-demand. Instead of printing off thousands of books that will end up in the trash, we order the book and it’s printed off.

  11. Bob Bly said:

    Zahra: Not great news for authors in my opinion. Kindle and POD minimize the investment a publisher makes to produce a new book, which in turn minimizes the author’s advance.

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