In an environment where oceans of websites claw for audiences and compete with traditional media, the Association of Magazine Media has rolled out a major campaign to remind everyone how vital print is. I love this headline on a recent 2-page spread ad:

“Will the Internet kill magazines?  Did instant coffee kill coffee?”

They certainly picked a poignant example; one that relates to the “instant gratification” aspect of the internet in terms of convenience.  The difference is that the internet is vast and sensory-rich, whereas instant coffee is bland, predictable and boring.  But history does indeed verify that very few communication technologies have died at the hands of a new one. And their logo is cool: you quickly recognize the “g” from Rolling Stone and the “Es” from Esquire mastheads.

The association offers a Magazine Handbook – Engagement to Action that cites reams of research from various sources showing that magazine readership is going up, not down.  One of the findings: 87% of those interested in reading magazines on a digital device also want a printed copy.  Interesting. The campaign does not make it clear whether its other statistics are referring to just the print versions of magazines, or reflect the print, digital and on-line versions.

Personally, I don’t think print will die; most professionals are spending most of the day staring at a computer screen, then staring at the glare for hours more in the evening for social media, hobbies, etc.  So relaxing with print is a relief.  I enjoy magazines during air travel, especially when cramped in.

I predicted years ago that the business and industrial product-review potpourri publications (fueled by product news releases) would drop their print editions since searching on the web for compressors, for instance, is so much more efficient than thumbing through a random round-up of various types of products.  Some have gone, some haven’t.  Witness IEN (Industrial Equipment News).

My belief is that the higher level, thought-provoking journals will indefinitely remain in print – they are meant to be absorbed and pondered in a comfortable chair, not scrolled through on a laptop.  if inspired, the reader can quickly jump back onto the stream-of-consciousness info superhighway and join (or start) the conversation on the subject.  It’s all good. Content that drives conversations should come from diverse media, including video, audio, holograms, whatever works.

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