From the Editor: Have You Forsaken Print?
I received more e-mail notes in response to my last editor’s note (“Give Me a Stone Tablet, I’ll Read It,” January/February 2012) than to almost any that I’ve ever written. Almost all were along the lines of “Amen” and “I agree! Print is not dead!”
A few people misunderstood my point; one commenter at PubExec.com was confused about how I could want to read a print edition and a digital edition. My point was that if the content is compelling, I don’t care what format it’s in—print, digital, stone tablet. (Think of the “Word of the Day” toilet paper.) I wasn’t saying what I would choose if given the same content on all three.
And that brings up another possible issue with what’s driving some publishers’ readers away from print. First, it was putting all of the print content on the Web for free. Then later trying to backtrack and put up paywalls. Now it’s apps/digital editions. Some are charging for these. Some are not.
Many think it’s a matter of choice—give the consumer the content where they want it. But the business model for it still needs to be there, does it not? Are publishers just grabbing consumer eyeballs any which way for potential advertisers’ sakes without thinking of the other repercussions? What you’re bringing in one door might be pushing twice the volume out the back door.
I don’t have all the answers (I don’t know who thought I did, but just in case), but I do have a question: If print is dead, why did so many publishers e-mail me in joyous response to my editor’s note? Why are there still many magazines whose print revenue (both advertising and subscription) is growing by significant amounts? (We profile four of these magazines in this issue.) Why do millions of consumers still buy magazines on the newsstands and via subscription? Why is Hearst investing in upsizing many of its print publications? (See “Mr. Magazine’s” latest column.)