Entering the ‘Other’ World (Beyond Print)
It is the million-dollar question many magazine publishers are faced with: What does print media have over the seemingly endless array of digital media forms now in existence?
After contemplation, the follow-up question is: How far should we extend our brand into that ‘other’ world? The world of digital delivery—of digital editions, podcasts, webcasts, television and extensive online coverage.
While interviewing publishers and editors on the challenges magazine publishers face and what they project for the future, it became clear that many in the business are walking a tightrope, balancing the viability of a printed product with the growing demand for more digital delivery.
An answer to that million-dollar question also became clear—print products do possess something its alternatives do not.
“Of all the media out there, print is the most engaging,” says Mike Federle, group publisher of Fortune Small Business, New York, which provides content on the personalities and practices of successful entrepreneurs in America. “Readers take magazines and curl up in their favorite chairs to read them. But when obtaining information online or via television, those people are most likely listening to music or conversing with a friend. Print is different. It has its place, and we must stand behind it.”
The publishers interviewed for this story agreed, but also revealed an acute awareness of the exciting, and somewhat foreboding, digital delivery mania. And most expressed a mix of optimism and trepidation about what the future holds for print in these fragmented media times.
PERCEPTION VS. REALITY
But is all the hoopla surrounding digital delivery based in reality? Federle says: yes and no. “The biggest challenge in the marketplace is the perception that everything is going digital and the question over print’s role going forward,” he says. “The idea that print isn’t or won’t be a reader’s preference is actually founded partly in perception … there are those who will always want print. Yet, some would say this … is based largely in reality when looking at where ads are going for some publishers.”