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Another Nail in Print’s Coffin

March 11th, 2008 by Bob Bly

One of my greatest pleasures is to read trade journals, newsletters, and business magazines at home or during lunch (like many of you, I don’t have time to read them during working hours).

But according to an article in BtoB (3/10/08, p. 28), I may soon be denied that privilege, as magazines discontinue their print editions and make their content available on the Web only.

The article notes that advertising in printed magazines plays “an increasingly subordinate role in marketing communications.”

Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupitermedia, comments: “I would think that every b-to-b magazine is being wound down and will ultimately be online.”

Publishing online saves publishers a king’s ransom in printing and distribution costs.

But I want a magazine I can read at the counter of the diner where I eat my lunch. And the highlight of my weekend is reading the Sunday New York Times while having coffee at my kitchen table.

How about you? Will you miss print publications when they are gone — and do you agree with Meckler that they will indeed soon vanish?

Or would you rather read your industry trade publications on your PC screen — and celebrate the impending demise of dead tree media?

Late-breaking development: according to a cover story in today’s DM News (3/10/08, p.1), Ziff Davis, the magazine publisher, just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The handwriting is on the wall….


This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008 at 9:50 am and is filed under Writing and the Internet. 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.

57 responses about “Another Nail in Print’s Coffin”

  1. Joel Heffner said:

    Perhaps five or ten years from now you will have your Kindle (or similar device) with you at the diner or at your kitchen table and wonder how you ever lived without it. Remember how you were less than in awe of blogs…not that long ago. Mankind survived the move from stones/papyrus/bark to paper. Maybe we will do as well with an electronic device. I hope so.

  2. Jodi Kaplan said:

    I would rather read something in print. One, it’s more portable. Two, I find that it’s easier to read so I read more of it (are you listening, magazine publishers?). Lastly, it’s easier to tear out an article or an ad (can’t do that on Kindle).

  3. Brandon Watkins said:

    My grandfather owned a printing company. In 1980 he bought a TRS-80 desktop computer with a printer and decided these “things” were going to put him out of business. So he morphed the printing company into a computer reseller/custom programming house. Maybe he was a little too far ahead of the curve.

    I started working for his company in 1982 by learning to program computers and writing software for him (who says there isn’t child labor in the U.S.?). The result? I’m as comfortable with technology as anyone.

    But I still prefer to read things in print. It’s easier on the eyes, more portable, and far better to make notes on.

    I think the move from print to screen is inevitable. But the publishers that make it simple to produce a clear, readable edition of their “magazine” on our printers will prove most popular.

    And maybe my grandfather will finally be right about those desktop computers with a printer attached.

  4. Lou Wasser said:

    Joel Heffner might be abolutely right. Just a few years from now me may be cherishing our kindle the way do our book. Problem is kindle is going to have to find a way to simulate the feel and the smell of a book,not just it’s portability.

    In the meantime, kindle can’t hold a candle to hard copy.

    And, let’s face it: books don’t crash.

  5. Joel Heffner said:

    For those who may think that the world is falling apart, consider these quotes about how technology was supposed to ruin education.

    “Students today can’t prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend on their slates, which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will not be able to write.”
    ~Teachers Conference, 1703

    “Students today depend upon paper too much. They don’t know how to write on slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can’t clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper? “
    ~ Principal’s Association, 1815

    “Students today depend on these expensive fountain pens. They can no longer write with a straight pen and nib. We parents must not allow them to wallow in such luxury to the detriment of learning how to cope in the real business world which is not so extravagant.”
    ~ PTA Gazette, 1914

    “Students today depend upon store bought ink. They don’t know how to make their own. When they run out of ink they will be unable to write words or ciphers until their next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern education.”
    ~ The Rural American Teacher, 1929

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  6. Ross said:

    eBooks are the obvious future. In a few years that is all anyone will read off.

  7. Dianna Huff said:

    I read the WSJ almost every day at lunch. I’ve never considered the online version.

    Maybe if companies did a better job of writing ads that SELL — versus ads that look pretty — magazines and newspapers wouldn’t be going out of business.

  8. Kristi Holl said:

    I sure hope it never comes to that. I do a lot of reading in the car on the way to things or when stuck in traffic or when in doctor’s waiting rooms, etc. I don’t want my magazine reading done online too! But the generations below us are being raised on computers and computer social networks, and I imagine they will one day be making these decisions–and I bet most of them won’t mind using a Kindle or reading their articles online instead.

  9. Steve Markowski said:

    Dear Bob:

    Since I don’t enjoy reading more than a few lines on screen, I print out articles to read with lunch. Not very green, perhaps, but it works for me. Given the choice between print or digital editions, I’ll take print every time.

    Most likely, some future mash-up of iPhone and Kindle will fill the requirement for the iGenerations who have never had to wash ink off their hands after the morning news.

    And, until the ibots can write as well as deliver the news, some talented folk will still be needed to craft words worth reading.

    Love to all.

  10. Jennifer said:

    I keep hearing this about the demise of the book, too–that one day all books will be sold as ebooks. I really hope not, for both books and magazines. I don’t go online to read stuff for pleasure–although I do use it for research, either for my business or client projects. And no matter how portable your screen is, you still risk breaking, losing, getting it stolen, etc. when you take it out of the house–and it’s expensive. With books you can take them everywhere; they’re not fragile; and they’re just easier all around to deal with. And they don’t strain my eyes if I stare at them too long. And you can curl up with them. Can you curl up with a laptop? No. I rest my case.

  11. Dayna said:

    … And you never have to recharge or replace batteries in a book or magazine. It’s great that there are more options for readers, but I just can’t do without the fabulous feel and pure page-turning pleasure in books and magazines. Shoot, I even buy books that I sometimes don’t read (even though my intentions were good) because of the look and feel, the weight, the paper, the smell of a book … Time to get offline and go read!

  12. Daniel C. said:

    As long as there are people who prefer print, there will be print available. I agree with many of the reasons given by other commmenters (my favorite: “books don’t crash”). Another reason why print should be retained is for archival purposes. When a website goes down or out of business, that’s it. There’s nothing left besides what the Internet Archive may have imperfectly captured. Any significant publication should leave behind at least several thousand hard copies so historical and literary records are safely preserved for future generations. Also, the authenticity of print records is generally easier to determine than electronic records.

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    As someone who works in the print industry, I can say that this is definitely one nail in its coffin. The industry is struggling as it is and with sites like this popping up, it’s not going to get any better. It’s a shame too because I love the print and I think it’s a beautiful medium. But alas, I don’t think it will be around for much longer.

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  26. Edward said:

    Dear BOB:

    Since I loath perusing in excess of a couple of lines on screen, I print out articles to peruse with lunch. Not really green, maybe, however it works for me. Given the decision between print or computerized versions, I’ll take print like clockwork.

    In all probability, some future concoction of iPhone and Fuel will fill the necessity for the Ages who have never needed to wash ink off their mind after the morning news.

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    Love to all.

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