I’m so done with the ‘death of print’ thing

29/08/2013 — 8 Comments

I'm done with the death of print thingI’m officially done with the ‘death of print’ thing.

I probably read my first print obituary before the turn of the century and the latest Monday. Here’s the headline…

“Will Mobile Publishing Be the End of Print?”

Robert Springer, EContent, Aug.26 2013

Really, this is the best we can do in 2013?

This particular spin on the story, and basically all the others, are a variation on a theme: There are a whole bunch of computers/tablets/smartphones in the world, which is exciting because there weren’t any 30-years/3-years/3-months ago. Print readership and revenues are slipping because the market is fragmented, but it’s going to be fine because someone, somewhere from a software company says they can help, if only you have the imagination to let them.

I have absolutely nothing against EContent magazine, I have absolutely nothing against Robert Springer who wrote this piece and I have absolutely nothing against Gregg Hano of Mag+ and Jonny Kaldor of PugPig who are quoted. It all makes sense – Greg and Jonny say some clever stuff. It’s just that wrapping the digital opportunity in a print shroud is completely unnecessary; print and digital are not mutually exclusive.

I’ve actually written about this before: Magazine people must become better storytellers

So how’s this for a story: Publishers have more opportunities to connect with their audiences than ever before. By capitalizing on the credibility and community embedded in long established print brands they are perfectly positioned, with have unrivaled reach and influence, to create expansive and engaging brand experiences.

What would the headlines for that story look like?

Multi-platform publishing includes profitable print element

Publisher leverages print brand into online success

Shock horror, print is still not dead

I know it’s tough out there for print publishers, but it’s tough for digital publishers too. The sooner we get past this fake civil war and start thinking about the best way to deliver great content profitably the better.


8 responses to I’m so done with the ‘death of print’ thing

  1. Peter, I couldn’t agree more.

    Some are obviously blind to this debate which is now starting to linger like a bad smell. As you say, a similar ‘internet versus print’ debate goes back to the 90s but all it did was create work and generate more print as communities, businesses, relationships and customers were created.

    Reading Robert’s article…well I got bored. Same old story, same old claims and same old predictions. Here is another article that failed to address reader behaviour – just exercising another form of content delivery…hang on, I stand corrected – Hano did mention one thing; ‘a print magazine has a front, a middle and an end’. Yes, readers eyes can scan the content, negotiate around the pages and the format within them with ease but seriously have you tried reading 120 pages worth of in-depth content and images on screens of less than 10-inches? Tedious isn’t it?

    I am all for digital content delivery but the examples offered in the article is nothing new. Maybe Jonny Kaldor should take a leaf from using Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) used by pilots and maintenance teams in the airline industry but I really can’t see how a 100 page document given to politicians via an App could enable them make notes with ease and refer back to later without the need to spend time trying to locate a desktop printer.

    These human elements need to be considered.

    I’ve heard it all before… sorry Kaldor and Hano, but I think you are both mistaken. Having seen both sides of the story now (and for some years) Apps will never kill magazines BUT they could be a complement to the publishing brand, the print title, the reader, the advertiser and available budget…if done right. Have you thought about that?

  2. Peter Houston 30/08/2013 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks for our comment Dean.

    The whole print vs digital debate is a classic Aunt Sally, based on the idea that print has to go away as digital grows. You’re right – audience preference is the key, and print will have a place alongside digital as long as people find it useful, desirable, convenient, effective. It’s never been a zero-sum game.

  3. As someone who deals with niche publishers, I can tell you they ignore any proclamations about the death of print. Revenue from that channel is still beating digital. The challenge they face is that print isn’t growing like it used to, and they are struggling for ways to expand their businesses without relying so much on print revenue. As a larger trend we’ve seen several digital only magazines go belly-up pretty quickly. It seems having the print brand to hang your hat on isn’t the worst thing.

    I am frustrated by articles from digital experts that seem to find no satisfaction with anything publishers try that is outside of print. Whatever publishers do many experts will write articles declaring they are doing it wrong. I suppose that is nice link bait….

  4. Peter Houston 30/08/2013 at 3:50 pm

    I agree Luis, and that’ why I finally lost patience with these type of headlines. Link bait indeed.

  5. Thanks for your solid perspective on this topic. I’ve passed it on. We work with telecommunications companies, so naturally they are very interested in communicating across the broadband networks they’ve built. But the channel we consistently see the most growth in? A printed magazine. The relevance of ink on paper continues…

  6. Spot-on Peter. Put simply, print and digital are just 2 different vehicles by which to deliver content.

    As always, the key for publishers is the relationship between their print and digital offerings. One of the main reasons many publishers are struggling in 2013 is that ten or more years ago they saw the internet as the answer to their prayers (hey, we won’t have the paper, print or production costs!) without producing a strategy or even knowing what business model they were going to work to.

  7. It’s about time I’ve seen others taking this position. It seems like the only ones I’ve seen on Linked in besides Samir and me in their sub-club writings has been us refuting the death of print.. It’s not leaving us, just experiencing an adjustment in these difficult times. But, like radio versus TV’s growth in the past 60ish years, there has been plenty of room for both in our culture. Radio caims over 150,000,000 listeners, and print, in due course, will continue it’s pattern and all it still has to offer versus it’s digital competition.

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    […] behind ad revenue and circulation figures that prove it lives and breathes. And we agree with Peter Houston that digital vs. print is a not a zero-sum […]

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