By Rex Hammock, CEO
I was recently asked about the future of print—specifically, magazines. Rather than start from scratch, I turned to an article written by my friend Samir Husni (better known as Mr. Magazine), the leading advocate of all things magazine. His thoughts were originally published as an opinion piece titled “Print: How do I love thee. Let me count the ways …” for FIPP.
Print is forever.
There is collectability and legacy to the printed page. Something that can last from the days of the Bible all the way to the 21st century and beyond. Print brings permanence and collectability. The Greek philosopher Parmenides believed that if you couldn’t hold it, touch it, feel it, it wasn’t real. The permanence of print then is very real.
I have had many artists and writers tell me that they felt their work wasn’t legitimate until they saw it in print. And one editor after another who has told me that the celebrity on the cover of their magazine would agree to that picture only if it was on the cover of the print product. They never asked if they would be featured on their webpage, only the magazine’s printed page. Doesn’t that speak volumes about the validity of print?
Print is finite and has a purpose.
Just like human beings, print has a lifecycle. There is a time to be born and a time to die. It’s not the never-ending story or the 24/7 story. It has a first page and a last page. Knowing that it won’t go on forever on this plane of existence gives it an earthly purpose; whether that is to inform, educate or entertain, print has a reason for being around.
Print is like a good friend.
It doesn’t interrupt you while you’re reading it. There are no notifications, no bells and whistles going off, no dings or pings telling you something is trying to tear your attention from what you’re trying to do. It helps you focus on that horizontal projection of your eyes, and you retain what you read. Your attention is zeroed in on that article, that piece of content that you are reading, and you actually comprehend the words on the page.
Print provides a sense of ownership.
You own the print product; it’s in your hands. No one can take it away from you. You can throw it away, you can keep it, you can cherish it; no matter what type of relationship you want, you can have it, it’s yours. Try to get mad at something on the digital platform and see what happens. If you throw your phone across the room, you’ll have to buy another phone.
Print is a timesaver.
You might scoff at that, but it’s true. If it’s well-done, well-curated, well-vetted, you’re getting the content that you want and need and you can trust it. It’s tried-and-true. You don’t have to trigger Google to go in search of it yourself. Experts have done it for you and put it between the pages of the magazine or the book that’s in your hands.
And print provides a real relationship and connection that you can enjoy time and time again. Print has become a necessary partner in these days and times. You can only have so many digital one-night stands before you yearn for the real thing. That trusted and safe partner that gives you what you need when you need it.
With print, there is an audio/visual power that can’t be denied. When the story is good, you can see the love in her eyes. When the apple pie is fresh out of the oven and baked just right, you can smell it and long to taste it. And with a good piece of print apple pie, you are satiated and feel complete. There is no digital piece that gives you that same sense of realism of being there. When the words come alive you can actually feel the movement of the people on the page and it no longer is just content; it becomes an experience. And it becomes your uninterrupted “me” time.
If I’ve made you want to read a printed product, then I’ve achieved my mission with this love letter to print. There is nothing like it, nor will there ever be. You can create a million websites with a billion pixels on the screen, but it will never replace the thrill, satisfaction and love you can feel for your favorite print magazine or book.
Samir Husni, aka “Mr. Magazine,” is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at The University of Mississippi. His blog, Mr. Magazine, features interviews with the most prominent magazine media leaders in the United States.
Photo: Rex Hammock
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