Print magazine and newspapers are dying. You probably buy fewer newspapers and magazines than you once did. Or maybe you never read newspapers or magazines because of your age: perhaps you grew up reading all of your news content on the internet, and so you don’t recall the newspaper/magazine-reading experience. Let me explain.
I’m currently 23 years old. I’m young enough to be considered part of the generation that prefers to consume content digitally (via the internet), but old enough to have experienced a long period of time where magazines and newspapers were the primary source of content. So I think I have a good perspective from both worlds: I recognize the charm and intimacy of reading a newspaper or magazine, but I also find reading a print magazine or newspaper incredibly annoying because of the difficulty in navigating.
Why is print media dying? Reading a newspaper is one of the most cumbersome chores on the planet. If the newsprint rubbing off on your fingertips doesn’t bother you, than surely the navigation does. Example: if you know the Wall Street Journal, you know that they provide a neat and tidy index on the front cover that points you to certain sections that may be of interest. The trouble is, getting to section C3 requires you to shuffle around the entire newspaper (which is often dozens of pages long), fold a few pages in half, and find a way to isolate the story you’re reading. If it’s a two-page story and you need to turn the page, the shuffle happens all over again. Additionally, most newspapers are mostly in grayscale except for front pages. It’s 2010, do I really need to look at grayscale images? Reading a newspaper is a horrible experience.
Magazines aren’t as bad because they’re often published in decent quality color, plus you can read them like a book (with sequential pages and not sections), but there’s still the issue of quickly jumping to an article you want to read…it’s not simply a matter of a click of a mouse. Also, often times you want to find more information about a particular subject. Because a print magazine isn’t digital, you can’t click a link and be taken to another information source. Nor can you play a video or listen to an audio clip to enhance your experience. At best, the magazine will say “for more, visit www.blah.com” requiring you to remember a web address for when you’re near a browser.
But I have high hopes for the iPad and other digital reading devices (I’m not sure the Kindle or Nook are up to task of replacing magazines. Newspapers, maybe). I picture a future where I can have a far improved magazine and newspaper reading experience. If you want a taste for what this may be like for reading a magazine, take a look at Sports Illustrated’s tablet concept. It’s remarkable. Reading a digital magazine or newspaper will let you instantly jump to a section of choice, watch embedded video or audio, and click web links to get more information about a particular subject. It lets you have that same intimacy with the content that only print media can deliver thanks to the tablet delivery method, with the added benefits of it being digital. It’s heaven, and I really hope the iPad (or something else) saves print.
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