I am fortunate enough to have been invited join the panel of one of the Great Print Debates at IPEX 2010. The burning question under discussion is the threat to print magazines posed by e-readers, Apple’s iPad in particular.
This is clearly a huge issue for the publishing industry and as editorial director for a group of B2B titles in print aswell as digital, I care deeply about where my brands and my career are headed. I spend a lot of time thinking about digital magazines. The stated mission of this blog is to look for a future for digital magazines, not print magazines. However, that doesn’t mean that I think print has no future.
Right now, with or without the iPad, most magazine publishers could barely afford to turn the lights on if it wasn’t for print advertising revenue. There is no doubt that we are seeing a decline in print revenues, but we are certainly not in the death spiral that iPad evangelists are predicting. This is because print still serves a purpose; readers read it and advertisers advertise in it, and this will be the case for years to come. Print is an appropriate technology. It is accessible, affordable and easy to use – that’s why it’s been around for 500 years.
I have no idea what the next 500 years will bring, but over the next 5 or 10 years, there can be no doubt that publishers will need to adapt to the inevitable proliferation of electronic content-distribution formats.
Publishers and printers will need to work hard to adapt their workflows to accommodate both print and electronic output, but with a real effort to manage publishing cost structures and develop a premium print offering, rumours of print’s death will prove to have been greatly exaggerated.
| UPDATE | I came across a couple of things last week that add weight to my belief that that the iPad, or any other e-reader, will not kill print.
Andrew Lowosky advises everyone to calm down, giving a series of reasons why he believes that iPad publishing might not be quite as easy or effective as the hype would suggest. He even warns that iPad overspend could “critically damage what might otherwise be a moderately successful print product.” Read his thoughts here.
BBC Radio Four’s In Business broadcast a show focussing on the pressures that digital media is putting on print publishers. Presenter Peter Day talks to the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine and the big print success story of the moment, The Economist, to learn how they are integrating their print and digital operations. You can listen to the In Business programme here.