Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Printed Magazines or Digital Magazines: Do We Have To Choose?

Which are better, printed magazines or digital magazines? I’ve heard some passionate arguments on both sides of the question.

For those of us in the publishing industry, there’s only one correct response: It's a stupid question.

The real issue for us: What does the customer want (and what is she willing to pay for)?

With apologies to my friends in the printing and paper industries, publishers are not in the business of creating printed products. We’re in the business of informing, entertaining, and advertising; the medium is just the means to an end.

Fellow print lovers, it’s time to stop pretending that electronic publications aren’t real magazines or that print is always superior to digital.

The healthiest approach is to drop the either/or thinking and recognize that printed magazines are a niche medium. A niche product cannot be all things to all people, but it can do some things for some people that no other product can do.

Print publications are subject to postal delays and don't have hot links to related articles. E-readers don't stand up well to a cup of spilled coffee or a day at the beach. An iPad app isn't much good to a NOOK owner. Browser-based editions seem convenient, unless you don’t have a wi-fi connection.

But they all have their place. They can all be profitable niches.

In an article published today in Publishing Executive magazine (34 Tricks Print Mags Can Do That Apps Can’t), I point out many of the things publishers can do with printed magazines that they can’t do, or do very well, with electronic editions.

I left out a few obvious ones – like posters, cover wraps, refrigerator magnets, blow-in cards, and polybagging. And not-so-obvious ones that were suggested by members of the Print Production Professionals LinkedIn group, like augmented reality, swatting flies, and training puppies. I’m sure I’ll hear about plenty more omissions.

In the same issue, Noelle Skodzinski, Publishing Executive’s web-savvy editor, chimes in with a thoughtful piece called Have You Forsaken Print?

Printed magazines have a future if we publishers can avoid false dichotomies (“Print is dead.” “No, print is best.”) and focus on exploiting the unique strengths of each medium.

Related articles:

7 comments:

Mark A. Taylor said...

The thing is, the convoluted typography in this style of Blogger doesn't work for print OR digital!

Anonymous said...

Well said once again. Publishers must be agile enough to offer the various formats effectively and find the right format for the right job. The PRINT industry (not publishers alone) must continue the promotion of print, especially in concert with the multi-media approach. Sappi does one of the best attempts at this and Verso is trying to revise their image. New Page, well, we know their story. The printing and merchant groups must also get more involved in this "selling" of print, especially the big boys like Donnelly and Quad.

Kevin R. Kosar said...

Yes, e-readers and tablets have their advantages, but print also has many as I pointed out some time back at: http://kevinrkosar.com/wordpress/?p=1344. For example, pick up a copy of Cosmo and you can smell the fragagrance from a perfume insert---g'lcuk trying to make that happen with an Ipad! Cheers!

Matthew said...

However, you're probably well aware that not all magazines are successful. I'm wondering how to break this one to you gently. No, I'm going to tell it like it is. Only about one in every ten titles makes it to long-term profitability.

Quick Printing Magazine

Digital Publishing said...

Thank for the information you have shared here about digital magazines publishing. Its very popular now a days and its better to create a magazines online and spread to readers rather than printed one.

Mark Bintuu said...

Optics Patent Attorney

Lance Tankman said...

I think this will be changing now with the digital world. So i dont think we will really have to be asking this question any more. I do the digital printing in New York City and its getting pretty big.