The Camelot Years: In A World Gone Pixel, Print Is Breathing Life Into History Like No Other Medium Can.October 16, 2013
If you walk by the newsstands and think you’ve stepped through a time warp when you see this month’s host of magazines devoted to commemorating and reliving the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, think again. And rather than reinventing history, some opted to just reprint it. The Saturday Evening Post chose to relive the tragic history of events by reprinting the December 14, 1963 issue of the magazine with the Rockwell painting of then-President John F. Kennedy on the cover. The painting was one of the president’s favorites of himself.
The issue is an exact replica of the original, right down to the advertisements. (This replica’s issue is on better paper than the original magazine. However you have to order it from The Saturday Evening Post since it is not sold on the newsstands). It brings up another one of that print versus digital questions that we all know so well:
Can you capture and relive history and also share it with the audience if it’s published in a digital only format?
The “In Memoriam” issue of 1963’s The Saturday Evening Post is 10½ x 13½ and conjures up the actual era of that time as you leisurely flip through the oversized pages. Would clicking an arrow on a webpage or sliding your thumb across a cold, impersonal screen produce the same emotion as the print version does?
I suppose each individual decides that one. But as for me, Mr. Magazine™, the answer is a resounding no!
Anyone who reads my blog or my books, and hears my lectures knows without a shadow of a doubt that I wholeheartedly believe in print. To me, print is THE foundation for everything media-related in the digital world. However, I’m not so close-minded that I don’t feel and see the need for instant gratification. After all, I’m no different than the next person; I love finding out the absolute latest news within mere milliseconds after it happens. But magazines are not only about news and content. As I say and have always said, magazines are much more than good content, they are experience makers.
What I am stating is the instantaneousness of it all still doesn’t compare to the experience of print. There is room in the universe for both, believe me. And the certainty of that lies in the difference of experiences one gets from each medium.
Staying with the inimitable 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, there have been at least eight different print magazines in the past few weeks focusing on the upcoming 50th anniversary of his assassination. November 22, 1963 has already gone down in the history books and now, 50 years later, print magazines are showing off one of the things they do best: bringing it back to life.
TV Guide remembers Jack – 50 years later. Vanity Fair has a special commemorative edition – The Kennedys. The Atlantic presents JFK – In His Time and Ours. Weider History Group offers JFK – Life and Death of a President. People Magazine has Jack & Jackie – Remembering Camelot Fifty Years Later. Media Source presents JFK – Special Anniversary Edition. i-5 Publishing celebrates Kennedy – His Life & Legacy. And of course, The Saturday Evening Post’s “In Memoriam issue.” And I am sure there will be more to come.
And while digital-only converts might argue that is only eight magazines when cyberspace can offer you eight to infinity; I say wonderful, but the experiences will have a totally different effect on the reader. When you finish the epically-done People Magazine about “Remembering Camelot” and you can not only see, but touch the photograph of JFK slumped wearily over his desk in the Oval Office, I dare anyone to tell me a computer screen can drum up the same deep emotions that the in-print photograph does. It’s just impossible.
This blog isn’t intended to focus on the detriments of digital, but rather its purpose is to augment and showcase the benefits of print. The absolute, undeniable ability that print has to indelibly “ink” itself to that part of your soul that screams for a tactile and tenable experience in a world gone pixel.
Done reading? Throw those magazines down onto your coffee table or onto your desk and let the conversation begin. I assure you, people WILL be asking you questions about all those printed magazines noticeably lying around; need I ask what will happen if they are on your iPad or any other smart device?