The Case for the Printed Magazine
Many professionals and media gurus believe electronic versions of magazines (e-magazines) distributed over the Internet will soon replace paper versions. This prediction is premature.
The real challenge for magazine publishers is competing for consumers' time against voluminous cable and satellite channel offerings, along with e-mail, the Web, video games, and other interests.
The fact is, people have far less time to relax and read today, regardless of the format. While the advent of notebook, hand-held, and tablet computers makes e-magazines technologically feasible, e-magazines aren't necessarily a better medium.
Some traditional print media will undoubtedly be adapted to electronic alternatives more quickly than others. This is already happening with newspapers. I no longer subscribe to broadsheets and tabloids. I rely on the Internet for my news.
However, I'm not getting as much in-depth reading of the news via the Web as I did with a New York Times subscription. Yet I read Time magazine, and assimilate its content each week, from the editor's page to the back page.
In other words, I'm free to attend to other responsibilities in my life, and still process news in-depth, albeit one day a week, rather than every day. And one weekly magazine is less bulk to recycle than are seven daily newspapers.
Notice I said 'recycle'. Some proponents of e-magazines cite environmental concerns—the usual suspects being landfill waste and deforestation—to promote moving away from the printed magazine.
Community recycling programs have alleviated the first concern, reducing the volume of waste dumped into landfills. And larger paper companies harvest and replant trees through sustainability programs, allaying fears we'll soon have a barren planet.
Magazines on paper also have several ergonomic advantages that make e-magazines less likely to prevail. Reflective copy is much more pleasant to read than back-lit screens, plus it's crisper and sharper, even at very small point sizes. I also find I retain paper-based content better than what I read online.