Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Nail in the Print Magazine Coffin

Remember US News and World Report? If your answer to that question is "yes," you'll no doubt be surprised to hear that they will no longer be in print starting next year. (Of course, if you answered "no," then you know WHY they won't be in print anymore.) A few years ago, the magazine cut down to being monthly instead of weekly, and now it's abandoning paper and going purely digital.

I find this to be Really Big News. When a formerly really well-known publication suddenly starts saying how important the iPad and tablets are to the future of publishing, and then declares it's breaking free of print so that they can "position ourselves to take advantage of the emerging platforms," you know print really is truly 100% dying. Newspapers have been on the way out, magazines are leaving us, and that's all a fact.

It's surprising only that it's happening so quickly, at least in my opinion. One of the things keeping print alive in recent years is that there are so many people out there who prefer reading things on paper--at least, that's what everyone's been saying. Apparently, there are quite a few who prefer this, but not enough to sustain a print magazine.

Then again, it makes sense. I've long since gone digital with all my news. I used to read USA Today in print, but I can get it on my iPad each day for free. Why get a paper copy?

So the question is, will this extend to books? I'm actually going to say that it won't. Not 100%, at least. I mean, you can still buy vinyl records today, despite MP3s and iPods. They don't sell as many copies, but people like them for their strengths--they're physical, they have great sound, they're collector's items, etc. Books will likely become the same thing, in print. People will buy them because they have a particular affinity for an author or title. They'll buy them for the collector's value, or because they prefer reading paper to reading a screen. But the majority of books will be sold digitally.

What do you think?

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