We, the Hybrid
I just read an article in Time magazine about the hybrid car—half gas-powered, half electric. An 'in-dash system controller' tells the car when to use which power source. For example, when the car is stopped at a light, a message directs the electric source to shut off to preserve power. When the car needs to accelerate, the controller tells the power source to kick up the juice.
I'm no automotive maven, but the hybrid sure seems like a way to maximize the benefits of both gas and electric. Critics say it will take a much bigger increase in gas prices to nudge the average consumer toward electric-powered cars, but auto makers see opportunity.
So … what do hybrid cars have to do with you? I can't help but see several similarities between the automotive and print industries. In our industry, the hybrid seems to be a healthy mix of media—print and electronic. The trick is determining the mix that maximizes the benefits of each.
Every day, new publishers create online products. And increasing print production costs—the rise in paper prices (see page 35) among the most recent—keep nudging publishers toward the hybrid.
Like hybrid cars, hybrid publishing organizations have central control systems. They are comprised of the president/publishers, production executives and editors. These units direct the organization when to stop certain operations, when to accelerate, and when to use one medium over another.
This is a fairly new hat for all of us in publishing to wear. As a hybrid editor, I need to have one eye on the printed page, and one eye online. I need to be aware of IT capabilities, and print-online formats. I need to be able to decide if our next editorial project will have a better life online or off. I need to know who is reading what online, and who is reading what in print.