For the Love of Print

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If the smell of newsprint conjures up images of enjoying your morning coffee, reading the Sunday paper in bed, chances are you can appreciate good journalism and have a love of print.

Maybe today you get your favorite newspaper delivered electronically and you browse the digital edition.  But the “lean back” activity of reading an offline edition is uniquely relaxing and singularly engaging.  Your attention is less easily diverted than when you’re consuming content from a screen, easily able to navigate away from the page to your email or another app on your smartphone or tablet.  Maybe this helps to explain the high conversion rate of print ads.

There is something nostalgically satisfying about reading the print edition.  The tactile experience of holding it in your hands.

These days I think subscribing to the print edition of a newspaper or magazine demonstrates a commitment to that publication and the work is produces.  Maybe you can read much of the content online, but you enjoy the publication so much that you are signaling support for their journalism by being a paid subscriber.  With such a rich media landscape, there are so many (free) sources of compelling content.  Paying is a very conscious choice.  Print publications depend on their readership, as it influences their value to advertisers.  And most publications are still predominantly supported by advertiser revenue.

Personally, I have the magazine Real Simple delivered to my home monthly – despite the fact that anyone can see much of their content online and through their social media feeds.  I feel a sense of loyalty to the magazine as a subscriber (even when reading it takes me months to get to). I always hit my monthly limit of online articles on Harvard Business Review and the New York Times, though I’ve yet to pony up for paid access beyond that.  Also online I’ll skim The Atlantic, Wired, Fortune, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company, as well as many others.

My father-in-law has the Wall Street Journal delivered and reads it cover to cover, in addition to their local newspaper.  I think this consumer behavior is relatively common across a certain demographic.  I know this pattern has generational influences, but it is not all explained by age.  Research suggests that print is seeing a resurgence of popularity among millennials today.

The transformation of the industry has certainly not been as drastic or sudden as some predicted, though it has not been without casualties.  What shuttered publications do you miss?

Some publications that have gone out of business have been brought back.  Domino, an interior design magazine, went out of business in 2009 only to be brought back by its “devoted cult following” in 2013.  With a rich print subscriber base magnified by a strong website and enriched by email and social media, they boast “one billion media impressions” since their 2013 relaunch according to their media kit.

How about you?  Which newspapers and magazines do you subscribe to?  Were your favorites among the hottest in 2015?  What content could you not live without?  Though you may not miss the smudged ink on your fingertips, doesn’t leisurely leafing through the paper at the kitchen table sound appealing?  Does modern life make that so unimaginable – to unplug and focus on one thing?  With a cup of coffee.

Post by Darcy Mauke

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