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Notes from the beach: It is a print, print, print world over here…

July 16, 2009

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No lap tops and no Kindles in sight… miles and miles of sandy beaches filled with folks on vacation armed with sun tan lotion, hats, and books (ink on paper books), magazines (ink on paper magazines) and newspapers (ink on paper newspapers). I was once again like a kid in a candy store seeing all these people reading and flipping pages of their printed papers. ( I almost took a picture, but was afraid of invading their privacy). They were not worried about putting them on the sand, the kids splashing water on them did not bother the parents, and when and if the pages get wet, the hot sun took care of that problem in few minutes.

I have said it time after time. The problem is not with print, the problem is what some folks who own printed products are doing to print, in the state of panic they are passing through. Case in point, USA Today newspaper. I picked up the paper yesterday and went to the beach to read it. On the front page they told me about my hero Superman, however they wanted me to go to their website to see the comic strip serial. To rub it in, on the front page of the Life section they showed me Superman again announcing his new adventure, but yet again it was only a teaser asking me to go to the website. That is the problem with most of the print products now-a-days. The folks behind some of our papers and magazines are in the process of committing suicide. Print is not dying, it is being killed.

Those folks do not believe that their printed product is enough or can deliver a separate experience on its own. When reading a newspaper or a magazine is no longer a complete experience (no matter what type of experience it is going to be) and you have to go other places to finish the experience, there lies the heart of the problem. I do not mind the papers and the magazines advertising their websites and telling me what they have to offer me on the website, but do not take it away from the printed experience. The web is a complete different experience, and each medium on its own should fulfill that experience.

People are moving away from print because print is moving away from them. In our search for the new publishing model we have lost our focus on the total reader experience with the total product at hand. The 360 experience should start and end at the medium at hand. Each and every medium should provide readers/viewers with the total experience. It you want more than one experience feel free to read the paper, go to the web, listen to the radio, watch television and check you mobile feed. However, keep in mind that each and everyone of the aforementioned experiences should be sufficient on its own.

For print to survive print folks have to focus on fulfilling my experience in print before sending me other places. It is the printed product that I have with me on the beach. I do not have to go any other place to read about my Superman. I hope on my next vacation when I pick up my copy of USA Today the entire Superman comic strip will be in the paper and not just announced on the front pages. Thank you in advance, and feel free to use some inside space to advertise your web site and its content. Treat it like an ad rather than an editorial content I can’t find in the paper itself.

Enough of that, the family and the beach are calling. Back to the vacation time… cheers.

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12 comments

  1. So true.

    Enjoy your vacay!


  2. […] Mr Magazine goes on holiday: ‘No lap tops and no Kindles in sight… miles and miles of sandy beaches filled with folks on vaca… […]


  3. I absolutely agree! Magazines in particular are best for put-your-feet-up reading, stories that go deep and long, and that provide an array of articles and related topics.

    I love online, too, but publishers and editors (and the annoying drumbeat from print-haters) have to understand that different media require different approaches. That’s actually good news, because it means there’s a viable future — and hungry audiences — for online and print.


  4. I agree. Very thoughtful opinion.


  5. Totally agree. Print publishers need to learn how to drive readers from online to print; versus from print to online. Use the website to support the printed product. A website should be utilized not only to provide a unique resource and service to readers; but to drive more readership to the printed product.


  6. I do agree with this thought which is very powerful.
    Keeping readers linked to a printed product is a real Gift for them.


  7. As someone who works in publishing for a company with 26 titles I have to disagree with you. Sure, on vacation, down at the beach, where you unplug and unwind everyone loves to read a book or magazine or newspaper. But the reality is, in our non-vacation existence fewer people read print and opt instead to get their news and information via the web through either their desktop computer or some other web-enabled device.

    The problem is not to fight the trend but to figure out a way to make it work for you. A newspaper or magazine is not in the business of printing something, they are in the business of delivering their content to as many readers as possible within their target audience therefore ensuring they can charge adequate rates for advertising to cover overhead and make a profit. In some cases the overhead cost might also be covered by subscriptions but in these days of information overload and it being free good luck with that model.

    So if the mode of delivery is the web or mobile devices or Kindles or however your audience wants to receive it so be it. Embrace that and become the best at it. But do not fight it. It’s a losing battle.


  8. I agree Steve. Right now I publish a print publication. If I have to move my content over to a Kindle or a mobile device, then I will be more than happy to do so. This will only benefit me in the future by cutting my entire printing overhead. Brand recognition will carry you through the imminent change into the digital age!


    • @Anthony

      This is the argument I present at my company constantly to deaf ears. How much do we spend printing and distributing 7 million copies nationally when we could move to an all digital production and granted, lose some readers and see a reduction in ad revenue but save much more in print cost plus staff reductions (you don’t need a huge circulation department if you’re all digital).

      I’m all for print if print is the right answer but my view is that print will soon be regulated to a supplemental role to drive readers to your web site. The only area I see print remaining strong is in books, especially as people realize that the Kindle is a $300 library pass that then requires you to purchase the books $25 per that you borrow. They won’t realize this because they don’t read the DRM agreements.

      If Amazon ever pushes the publishers to change the DRM licenses (like letting me share my book with someone else) then it might be game over for books being printed as well. But I don’t see that happening soon as Amazon is all about keeping publishers, not customers, happy.

      Steve


  9. […] killing it. Mr. Husni also points out: why not send people from the web to the print publication? http://mrmagazine.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/notes-from-the-beach-it-is-a-print-print-print-world-over… leave a comment « Young People […]


  10. an interesting viewpoint. Thank you!


  11. […] Mr Magazine all’inizio dell’estate: «No lap tops and no Kindles in sight… miles and miles of […]



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