It’s 6:40pm on a Friday, I find myself facing a wall of possible reading materials. My train leaves in nine minutes. I’m in an all-too-often dilemma . . . I can’t find anything to read. I consider myself a fairly average person, albeit swayed to the creative side of the spectrum, but nevertheless fairly typical. Design, typography, technology and the web are what I would describe as my primary interests. I’ll often find myself scanning through the pages of Creative Review, Computer Arts or Design Week (now deceased), to name but a few. And yet, not one magazine, at least not amongst the shelves of WHSmith at Euston station, offers me something that the internet can not.
As I inspect each printed candidate, all I see are images and topics that I’ve already encountered during the last month of my internet trailblazing. The remaining, unseen, and perhaps valuable content, often consumes somewhere in the region of five per cent of the entire publication. Sadly, this is not enough to get me to part with my precious five pounds.
So print is dead?
This is not an article about how ‘print is dead’, nor do I wish to glorify the web as the all reigning champion in the fight to become the content king. I’m simply proposing that the magazine needs to evolve to be stronger in ways that the web cannot compete. Some titles have recognised this, and as a result are thriving. These thriving publications offer content focused on a niche topic, confirming that I can be sure the articles will interest me through cover to cover. They offer high quality and mostly timeless stories, and by this I don’t necessarily mean that in 50 years time we’ll still be wanting to read them rather, it’s not breaking news that will expire in the coming weeks. They take full advantage of the printed page with luxurious print finishes, varnishes and fluorescent colours, not to mention the finer typography that suddenly becomes available once leaving the browser. Getting all the elements right, these titles have developed a precise and loyal audience allowing for a greater emotional response to be had with the publication’s message. From the masthead, right down to more relevant advertising (no more aftershave adverts scattered amongst the technology-related articles) it’s a better experience.
This is the future of the printed magazine; smaller runs, niche topics, a defined audience and timeless articles. A slightly higher price tag perhaps, but often offset with high quality aesthetic appeal and more value out of my five pounds.