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Paper vs. Online, pt. 2

January 8, 2009

So there’s another direction to take when discussing which is a better format, and this is something I’ve been talking about quite a bit recently. The publishing industry. I am in full agreement with almost everyone that newsprint is going the way of all things, and will eventually be completely replaced by online formats. It’s only a matter of time really. However, I believe that magazines are here to stay, for a good while anyway. Yes, they’re having difficulty selling ad pages, and that means they can’t hire new people to help foster new ideas, but the good ones are still here. And yes, it’s totally possible that there will be few new magazines to actually manage to get off the ground in the future, but that’s irrelevant. The truth is that any avid magazine reader will tell you they prefer reading the magazine in its print version than online. Simply holding the magazine, and flipping its pages can bring on that glow.

When magazines’ online formats improve, it’s possible that some of the more ensconced publications will make the move from print to cyber, but for now, they’re going to stay just the way they are. Can you name a single magazine webpage or online version you enjoy accessing… or enjoy more than the real thing? I didn’t think so. The fact is, the technology that exists online at this moment in time is simply to blasé. The pages don’t jump out at the reader the way the printed pages do.

This past summer, I got to see some of what goes into creating the online version of a magazine. This idea of mine is not intended to downplay what the online guys do, or the amount of effort they put in. I find it hard to believe however, that even they wouldn’t agree that the print is better, for now, than the online version of just about anything. They are constantly changing format and platform to make it seem more like a magazine. And nothing is ever available the way you would like it to be. The challenge now is to make the content of the online version exciting, interesting and new, so that it will compliment the paper version of the publication, rather than attempt to compete with it.

What do you think? In the publishing world, are magazines on their way out? Or will paper be around for a while longer? Do you think it’s reasonable to expect the online version of a magazine to have the same content, in the same format, as the print version? Would you rather see an online version with new and changing material, than an attempt to recreate the print version? Would you pay a subscription fee for an online version of a magazine?

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