Now Hear This: Print is Not Dead-Long Live Print
I am a subscriber to The Columbia Journalism Review whose features capture the latest thinking on all things pertaining to the medium and the profession. Like you I am a reader of books, and a subscriber to newspapers. Like you, I've been saving the planet by ticking the "electronic version only" to my subscriptions to save the world from destroying oxygen breathing trees and burning carbon fossils on delivery of my subscription.
But more and more I've become nostalgic for the rituals of home delivery of print copies of these items where I can make--an occasion--of sitting back in a comfortable chair with the newspaper and enjoy the page layouts, the smell of the ink and paper, the fact that advertisements are not popping up in my face (on my electronic screen), and tracking which articles I click, and feeding me information in silos of like-topics such that I am no longer served a diversity of features in the way that a well managed print publication provides.
The breakdown between the fourth estate and its public is fewer print subscribers which means fewer advertisers which mean fewer quality staff which means poorer quality journalism and consequentially publications going into the red and off the map.
In the publishing industry people have been predicting the return of book, and why not? Just yesterday I wanted to "lend" my copy of a book to a friend and I couldn't--it's on my iPad in digital format. And this is but one of the joys of physical book ownership that has been lost. Think of the state of your physical library, as in, those colourful and dusty shelves with copies of books you've had since the Gutenberg Press.
All the books on my shelves are from what seems like "another era" because I have added few new titles that reflect any update in my reading habits reflecting new topics of interest. But my kindle shelves show neat little rows of book "covers" backlit in colourful pixels illuminating on my screen and floating in the cloud. No help to anyone in my household or on my trusted lending list. (the ones who return books)
So here now is a more erudite rant on the subject from Michael Rosenwald of The CJR.
January 27, 2017 —
Print is Dead: Long Live Print
Here is the first few paragraphs of the feature whose link appears above:
ROGER FIDLER IS A FOREFATHER of digital journalism. In the early 1980s, he wrote and illustrated an essay on the future of news. When Fidler presented his ideas around Knight Ridder, his co-workers sometimes laughed. “It was not quite like Roger had descended from another planet,” a colleague of his once told me, “but he was saying some things that were simply very hard to believe at the time.”
The idea he spoke of most was one Steve Jobs would have many years later—a tablet on which to read electronic newspapers. Fidler’s design and execution of a prototype were so similar to the eventual iPad that when Apple sued Samsung over design infringements, Samsung used Fidler’s early device to argue the idea was in the public domain.
In Fidler’s vision of the future, news and information were headed to the nascent internet, where stories would be instantly published from one computer to millions more, eliminating the need to operate an expensive press run by expensive workers. A tablet, he thought, was the perfect device to replace paper. Readers could click on boxes that revealed data or more information about a particular subject. Advertisers could produce immersive, interactive ads. And the tablet could be slipped into a briefcase or bag. Fidler was right, of course. Apple has sold several hundred million iPads, and more than a billion phones that serve much the same purpose.
Now, Fidler wonders if he was wrong. “I have come to realize that replicating print in a digital device is much more difficult than what anybody, including me, imagined,” he told me this summer, and he wasn’t just referring to tablets. To be continued: The CJR