Print takes another hit

I received an email today from one of the trade mags where we recently sent off a new ad to run in an upcoming issue. We had created a small-space, black & white ad and the exciting news we received was that we could now convert the ad to 4-color – because they’re no longer going to print the magazine – now it will be entirely on-line.

I guess, I’m old school. But I don’t read any magazines on-line.

I guess I’m also part of the problem – we don’t subscribe to any magazines anymore – Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, AdWeek, AdAge – they no longer make their way to our mailbox. I also recently stopped subscribing to what was my favorite publication of all time – Lurzer’s International Archive.

Archive was a 5 times a year publication that featured the best print ads being done from around the world. I used to almost drool when I received my copy and I was always happy to see when any firm from St. Louis made it in. Core, Rodgers-Townsend and I think FUSE and possibly Arnold Worldwide all made appearances. But it wasn’t often.

Archive began featuring digital campaigns. And it’s now available digitally which I’m sure is way better because you can now experience all the great digital work and see any TV commercials that they happen to toss in which is always better than just looking at storyboard frames. But soon, Archive won’t have enough print ads to warrant an issue and it, too, will become past tense.

I know that incredible things are being done with ‘magazines’ on the iPad. Now the content can feature live interviews. You can press a button, scroll, wipe or expand content to get all sorts of fabulous tidbits of info or link to sites that tell you more about whatever it is you happen to be reading about.

I know I’m behind the curve on adapting to this new format. I still like to read books by holding them in my hand and turning the page – I’ve tried the Kindle and Nook and it’s just not me.

Fortunately, I’m getting involved in developing some of this new content and it’s given me a new appreciation for what can be done.

One day, there simply won’t be any more printed magazines. We’ll be able to dig out old issues and show them to our grandchildren and they’ll ask, “What’s that?”

I began my career typing on a manual typewriter.

That’s an antique in today’s world.

The key is to make sure that I don’t become one as well.

Happy reading.

No wonder print media is dying

We used to subscribe to Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Adweek. Not anymore. Print media is dying. But by no means have people lost interest – it’s just that the way we consume media continues to evolve.

Recently, I have had the privilege of working on a project where we’re converting collateral brochures into online apps that can be viewed on tablets like the Ipad and whatever else is out there. My eyes have truly been opened to the new powers of persuasion.

Magazines or brochures can give you facts and information. With strong copywriting and great art direction, you can tell a powerful story. But it simply can’t compete when your layouts can feature live video links. Or your type flies on the page and then explodes off of it. Or your photos can feature 360 degree pans or you can zoom in to the photo to take a closer look. Infographics can magically form. Hyperlinks can take you to more content. The page can expand to deliver more of your story or call-out buttons can feature pop-up graphics and summaries.

It’s a strange new world and it’s exciting to be in on what I consider to be close to the ground floor. While early adopters were working out all the kinks associated with making all this interactivity functional, the magazine industry has been climbing aboard the digital format, knowing that people will stay pay for their favorite magazines – only now, they’re phasing out the printed versions. Newsstands will soon become a thing of the past as the number of Americans who jump on the tablet and smartphone bandwagon continues to rise.

I’ve seen firsthand what this has done to a number of local printers as well as several design firms that used to thrive on creating annual reports, calendars, catalogs and company brochures. They’ve had to evolve or they suffered the consequences.

Likewise, today’s art directors and designers have had to expand their knowledge base far beyond the printed page. I’m amazed at the many talents of today’s designers – yet it also seems to me that many are more involved in the flash of the presentation versus the fundamental idea that still needs to be present no matter what media you’re working in at the time. Writers have had to adapt as well. Long form content isn’t exactly in demand these days. But you better be well-versed in knowing how to write in this brave new world of interactivity.

I’ve said before that I still enjoy shuffling out of our house to get the morning paper and then sitting down to devour its contents. I know those days are numbered. Our mailbox no longer contains the magazines it once did and it’s only a matter of time before the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pulls the plug on its daily edition.

The writing is on the wall. Or rather, the writing is in the tablet, the laptop and the smartphone which before we know it, will all be merged into one.

Keep reading.

And keep evolving.