I was briefly brainstorming with a friend and colleague today over business model ideas for our publishing clients. Our company supports magazines with back-end solutions – it’s a volume business. More is better.
But the reality is, today there is less and less print business. There’s less subscribers. We’re all scratching our heads.
I don’t have an answer for saving the print publication industry. Clearly, nobody does immediately.
But I can start to tell you why I don’t subscribe to any print magazines or newspapers, despite being a complete news junkie.
1.) I find print media inconvenient and inefficient
I never understood the claim – ‘People like print because you can feel it.’
Huh? I think people getting their johnnies off from physically handling their news source is vastly overrated.
Glossy magazines are handy only when leisurely reading. Waiting rooms and toilets come to mind.
And newspapers – actually handling a newspaper is an acquired skill. They’re big, unbound messes. Taking one apart generally results in a crumpled, unmanageable paper pile.
Reality is, most of the time I’m consuming news, not casually enjoying it.
2.) I heart links
3.) Give me headlines, I’ll decide if I want more
Magazines have tables of contents (TOC’s, for jargon). That’s all I initially need. I read my Des Moines Register news today through an RSS feed. Through it, all I see is headlines (about 100 over the course of a day) and the first 15 words or so. I probably click through to read about five stories a day. It’s perfect.
4.) Nothing is more current than online news
Short of being a witness, nothing is quicker than digital news. Old news is an oxymoron.
5.) Online news is free
Whether you agree with it or not, online news is 99% free, thanks to advertising. I’m not sure this is a sustainable business model or not. Part of the problem is that we still haven’t figured out how to advertise effectively online yet. Brian Clark at Copyblogger had an insightful post on this issue recently.
Either way, today, online news is free. Print news costs me money.
So what can we do? It’s not that I’m anti-print. I mean, I read books constantly. But then again, I don’t join book clubs.
Is it the on-demand nature of the Web that has changed our habits? People constantly speak of the media shift from one-to-many to many-to-many. We don’t wait on the news anymore. There isn’t much need for categorizing and organizing beyond Google and various breaking news feeds - which has traditionally been a major component of print news. People make careers of laying out news pages and deciding what should be seen in what order.
Online, we do that ourselves.
Not sure what to make of this. Like many in the media world, I’m still pondering it. Still talking about it. Still wondering what the industry will look like in a year, five years, 30 years.
But I can tell you this: I don’t subscribe to newspapers. I don’t subscribe to magazines. I don’t do book clubs.