It was with sadness that I read the latest issue of PC Magazine. One of the oldest technology magazine, PC Mag had been reinventing itself for some time. From now on, the magazine announced, it will only be available online/electronically, with no more printed issues.
Surprisingly, despite my love of “less paper,” I will miss the paper magazine, and am not an afficianado of electronic-only publications. To the contrary, I like paper publications (and subscribe to dozens). They allow me to read them when and where I want, and to clip articles (and scan them) for future reference. It’s not easy to sit down for lunch in front of a computer screen and read a magazine. My eyes don’t like that method very much.
While the move toward electronic publications is in full swing, and the demise of many newspapers is imminent (or has occurred), the popularity of the Amazon Kindle demonstrates that people still want to “hold” what they’re reading. I love the Kindle for that convenience and rue the fact that I can’t “save” a great book on my bookshelf. But at least I can read it on the El or anywhere else I want — and you won’t be able to do that with future issues of PC Mag.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that the demise of paper publications is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Newspapers regularly eliminate popular features, and use “stock” copy rather than fresh, local material. When they do this, they see their circulation decline, probably as a direct result of the diminished quality of their content. Instead of maintaining the content, they then bemoan the ever-shrinking circulation and make more cuts. It’s a vicious spiral that leads them down the drain.
Let’s hope that magazines and newspapers survive. It’s great that we can read them online, but let’s hope that we never have to.