Sunday, February 22, 2009

What is the future of print publications?

The final question from the interview I gave to an Emerson graduate student:

Question: What do you think is the future of print publications? What do they need to do to survive -- or should they be allowed to pass away?

My answer:
Their time has almost gone. There may be some opportunity for established brands that can charge market rates or even a premium to cover printing and distribution costs, but I am convinced that 99% of the print newspapers and magazines that exist today will be dead or online-only by the year 2014.

It's sad, but it reminds me of the passing of illuminated manuscripts in the decades following Gutenberg's invention in 15th century. It was the end of a way of life for many people, businesses, and institutions, including scribes and the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, the changes that came as a result of the invention of the printing press were far-reaching and ultimately wondrous to behold. They led to other inventions and trends that are still being felt today.

I feel that the advent of the Internet and several other related technologies (such as the browser and LCD screen) are creating a similar period of disruption, but ultimately a host of opportunities for people and publishers. It will be sad to see magazines and newspapers close, but I am also very excited about what the future holds.
I've talked about the impact of Gutenberg's printing press on my old graduate school blog before -- see Bible study: Comparing Gutenberg's invention with the rise of the World Wide Web.

Some of my other answers from the interview:

1 comment:

  1. You are on target. James Carroll spoke at the ASPBE awards two years ago and reminded those of us winning awards in print publications that most college students do not read print at all. Thanks!


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