Guest Columnist : It's the Publishing Model—Not Print—That's Dead
'Mr. Magazine' offers a history lesson to an industry short on and desperate for good news.March 2009 By Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni
Not a single day passes by that you do not read a prediction of the demise of print. “The end is near!” proclaim the prophets of doom and gloom. They are quick to point to the demise of Country Home, Domino and Cosmo Girl!, among others. They use those RIPs and obituaries to pontificate that print is on its way out. It will soon be replaced by some fancy sheet of plastic that will be the be-all, end-all to all things print. This new technology will replace your magazine, your newspaper and even your books. Think how light your backpack will be once that happens.
Well, the nice thing about the predictions of the prophets of doom and gloom is that is all they are: predictions. In my book, two people, with no third, can tell you the future: God and a fool. And I know these prognosticators are not God, so if you are willing to listen to fools, then you need not read this column.
I only deal with promises that I can keep. Promises that are made based on years of experience tracking the magazine field, observing the changes (change is the only constant in our business) and commenting on the industry as an outsider looking in. And you know what? There is a lot of talk about change in our industry today.
I came to America 30 years ago. It was the Golden Age of Magazines. The industry was launching 150 to 200 new magazines a year. It was the revival period after the devastating 1960s when television (remember that thing?) claimed the lives of tens of magazines. Life, Look and The Saturday Evening Post all died in the ’60s and early ’70s. Print was dead yet another time. Nobody wrote about this new rag called Rolling Stone, nor did they predict People magazine would become a major cornerstone of our industry. “Print is dead,” we were told, time and again.