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.