Sunday, January 03, 2010

BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Print Will Survive

BoSacks Speaks Out: Why Print Will Survive

As we close the year out, I wanted to take the time to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. I have specifically used the term prosperous because I think it is still a very achievable goal for many of us, if not all. I haven't held my punches in this newsletter in the past nor will I now. We are in a period of tremendous change and upheaval in an industry that was once king of its particular hill.

I have compete faith in the lucrative future of the printing industry and the paginated products we produce, which I continue to tell my many friends and associates, some of whom actually own the printing plants where you print the magazines that you work on. I continue to advise them that there is time to adjust to the new paradigms as we shift from what once was to what will be.

I think there are billions of dollars being made and yet to be made in print publishing. And those sums will be around for quite some time for the nimble, the quick and the niche .

There are and will be continuous forks in the road to all our future developments. Do I believe print will continue? Yes. Do I believe that the predominant readership and the predominant advertising dollars will be going digital? Yes, I do. But I predict no deaths, only multiple and various new avenues of content distribution. Some more profitable than others. The print industry has lost at least 10 billion dollars and there's a good chance we might lose more. Yet, I think we can still keep a reasonable amount of what is left for a considerable amount of time.

Just like newspapers and radio who were once king of the hill, they are still here and making billions. TV is still here and making billions, too. So will print be around and viable? Not only viable, but profitable. We can do this if we get back to the basics. The very basic position is that it is our editorial above all else that is of interest to the reader. Ads are nice for both the publisher and the reader, but it is our edit and our unique words that make for longevity and profitability. If we have something worth knowing, then it is worth paying for on any substrate. That is the formula we forget from time to time. The only thing we really have going for us is the knowledge we have that others, especially our readers, do not. All else is smoke and mirrors.

Digital reading and digital platforms are growing faster than anyone can keep track of. Digital will soon be totally ubiquitous and provide data that is perhaps more useful than print because of its ability probe deep into the depths of any conversation. But print is a buffer from the world around us, and that has a certain charm all its own. Many have postulated that it is that very lack of ability to "connect" that is the charisma of the printed product. But I wouldn't want to back a business plan on that concept as we move forward. Our children do not require nor covet a disconnection.

I believe that niche printed titles will continue to provide a strong platform. That those select readers will be the readers who are willing to pay for the product in their hands . I also believe that advertisers will still want to reach the niched "unknown" readers because they represent a very special and devoted "clique" of potential buyers of the advertisers' products.

So, as we proceed into the next decade, I wish you tremendous prosperity and happiness. No matter what happens, the written word will prevail and publishers will conjure a way to profit from the transaction and delivery of thought and creative thinking. It has ever been so.

I'll see you in the next decade. My best to you and yours.

1 comment:

Postal Sanity said...

Current e-reading devices are still clumsy and provide limited functionality. This will change over time.

The coming transformation to digital will be non-linear. The biggest jump will occur after the release of an e-reader device which closely resembles the properties of a printed magazine. Sufficient size, 24-bit colors and enough contrast to allow outdoors reading. For a "perfect" e-reader add on wireless connectivity and touch screen functionality.

We agree that niche markets in printing will remain. But the Titanic (printing industry) will end up as a Mississippi steamboat.