Future of Print Takes Center Stage at Last Week’s Publishing Executive Conference
More than 1,000 publishing industry professionals turned out to the 2007 Publishing Executive Conference and Expo, held last week at the New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square. The event featured more than two dozen educational conference sessions and a bustling exhibit hall that played host to nearly 100 of the industry’s leading suppliers.
The conference was highlighted by a standing-room-only session pitting industry guru (and Publishing Executive magazine columnist) Bob Sacks against Dr. Samir Husni, chair of the University of Mississippi’s Journalism Department and also known as “Mr. Magazine.” The duo traded jabs in a lively debate over the future of print. Sacks stressed the troubles facing today’s printed mags while touting the limitless possibilities offered by digital devices and e-paper. Dr. Husni opined that printed magazines are indeed as alive as ever.
Google’s Jim Gerber, director of content partnerships, delivered the conference’s keynote address to several hundred attendees in the Marriott’s crowded Broadway Ballroom, where he provided an overview of Google’s publishing-related partnerships. One of the highlights of his keynote address was his insight into the potential impact on mobile content by rapid technological advancements that are likely to take place in the very near future; if today an iPod can hold tens or twenties of thousands of songs, he said, then by 2012, it could hold a year’s worth of video, and by 2019, it could hold a lifetime of video. “I’m not saying this will happen, but it can,” said Gerber.
The conference kicked off on Monday morning with a grand opening session led by Dr. Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication. Dr. Cole revealed the results of an ongoing study of Internet use, now in its seventh year, and applied the effects of these findings to publishers. Among his many observations, Dr. Cole asserted that the Internet has revolutionized mass media. “With no hyperbole whatsoever, we can say that the Internet is reversing 550 years of media trends that began with Gutenberg and his bible in Germany in the 15th century,” he said. “Up until the Internet, all mass communication has been from the few to the many, and the many have had very poor ways of communicating back. And if you look at today’s Internet users they’re making it clear: They don’t just want to receive information, they want to generate it. They want to be the source.”