When It Comes To Monetary Value, Guess Which Platform Increases Its Value With Time? A Mr. Magazine™ Musing…April 21, 2014
I have been thinking about the day I bought my first Panasonic personal DVD player recently. It had a five-inch screen and I paid more than $1,000 for it. And guess what? Today it’s sitting useless in my pile of electronic junk at home due to the fact that I cannot find a replacement battery since the player is now considered a dinosaur.
Of course, as the wheels in my mind began turning, I realized another intriguing point. I used to be able to buy a print edition of TIME Magazine for $2.95 twenty years ago and today a copy will cost you $4.99.
So it would appear that all things digital start out at an astronomically high price when they are fresh off the assembly line, but only decrease in value as the years go by. While print seems to increase in value with the passing of time – no pun intended.
I started working at the University of Mississippi in 1984 when I received a $30,000 grant from the Meredith Corp. to begin the service journalism program. I was able to buy four Mac Plus computers and a laser printer to set up the first desktop publishing lab in the state of Mississippi. And that was the end of that first grant money.
The same thing can be said for my first Walkman, my own first personal computer, my first cell phone and my first TV. All of these digital accoutrements cost a pretty penny when they were introduced to the buying public and within a few years they were not only obsolete after spending that huge chunk of cash, they were also worth nothing due to their antiquation.
You might be wondering why I am telling you all this. And I might answer for one simple reason: the future value of anything, anything at all. But for the purpose of context we shall stick with the topic…the value of digital versus the value of print.
I was looking on eBay recently and noticed some of the prices for first edition printed books and magazines and what really struck me was the prices are going for higher than the ink on paper items sold for originally.
For example, a copy of the first issue of Action Comics, in which Superman was unveiled to the world, sold in an online auction for a record $2.16 million. It cost 10 cents when it was published in 1938. Needless to try to calculate how many times more that issue’s price multiplied since its inception.
And here’s another example: Playboy magazine – Issue 1, which had a cover price of 50 cents is selling for $4,000.00 on eBay today and another first issue of the magazine sold for a $7,040 winning bid . That’s another magazine selling for almost 8,000 to 15,000 times the original price. Granted it is a first edition, but the point is still the same and the aforementioned are only two of many many examples. Print platforms increase their value, while digital platforms do not. (By the way, a replica of the first issue of Playboy is currently on sale at the newsstands for $9.99, that too is many times the original cover price.)
So, what do you think you would get for a first edition e-magazine a few years from now? The word nada comes to mind.
Late last year, the Bay Psalm Book sold at auction for $14,165,000. It’s a rare book printed in the 17th century… and it’s definitely print. No digital or e-books in 1640. Can you imagine over $14 million dollars for a copy of a virtual book generations down the road? The odds of said book even existing hundreds of years from now are very slim. Who are we kidding? Hundreds of years from now digital may have morphed into something totally unrecognizable from what we know today.
The moral of this story is not to discount digital at all, but to highlight the facets of print which sometimes go unnoticed in this virtual age of cyberspace reality.
Because rest assured it might take an act of God to wipe out a 500 plus-year-old book, but your computer or tablet can be erased with a click or an introduction of a new model.
Print’s value reigns on…
© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014. All Rights Reserved.
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