24 October 2007

A New Kind of Hope

In his latest “Bo Sacks Speaks Out,” Bob Sacks tells of the plaintive reader requests for good news about the survival of print. He honestly and sympathetically explains that he tries to find positive gems and that he does pass along what he finds. But there isn’t very much.

He says:

"So in my writings and my daily newsletter, I am offering a new kind of hope. Nature abhors a vacuum. For every job that is eliminated in print there are even more new jobs created in the digital arena. Look it up. It is in the US census bureau data. Graphics jobs, editorial jobs, production jobs, and jobs we have never heard of. Those jobs are the new frontier. And it is growing by leaps and bounds."

And concludes:

"What I am dead sure of is the future direction of information distribution. The king of the information forest is not tree based life, but silicon based information distribution."

Allow me to insert my own two bytes. Two factors and two factors alone will determine if the tree goes the way of the dinosaur — technology and the marketplace.

Is there available technology to emulate the print magazine digitally? Almost. We already have specifically magazinoid digital formats. We are awaiting a relatively cheap reader. And there is a sense it is coming, so help me Microsoft.

The marketplace is trickier. Marketers and technologists can reason, declare, insist, bluster and foist all they want; but consumers (you know . . . people?) decide what makes sense to them and what doesn’t..

In the mid-‘80s I was at a 20th Century Fox Home Video press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. The news? The studio declared it would not distribute to any video dealers who let their customers rent instead of buy. So, how did that turn out?

It is entirely possible that current and future magazine buyers will decide that paper covers screen— no matter how light of weight, portable, convenient, paperish the screening device is. But considering the current and growing comfort with the screen and the digital technology behind it, I’d have to say paper is a paper tiger

As I asked previously, when was the last time you said, “send me a photocopy” and the last time you said, “send me a link?”

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