Wednesday, 9 April 2008

What can make print more compelling than online?

I paraphrase, but that is basically the question behind Mindy McAdams' blog post for which she asked three journalism professors who teach magazine courses to tell her the top three magazines they would choose to subscribe to in printed form, no matter how good the Web site for the magazine was.

As publishers of business magazines with both printed and online versions, it's an issue that becomes more urgent by the day here. If people can get the information they need (this is business publishing) easily online, we have to focus the print products on the things that print does best, that is compelling - things such as being able to read it in the bath, to use as a badge (Look at me! I'm reading The Economist!) and, well, something to line the budgie's cage with once you've finished reading it.

So Mindy's question is an excellent way of pursuing this thinking.

My three?

Well, I don't read magazines much any more. I'm even giving up my Time Out subscription because it no longer delivers much in the way of value to me. What do I read?

  • The Times newspaper every day (well not ALL of it) because I have 45 minutes on the train to work and I like to browse the paper. And do the crossword on the journey home.
  • I used to read Vanity Fair every month, but I just don't seem to have the time any more. Anyway, that's one that - if I read it at all - I would read regardless of how good its online offering were
  • Ummm. That's it.
In fact, I'm amazed to find that I don't read magazines any more. I hadn't realised.

I think it might make a rather interesting meme - Adam, Jim, Piers, Dan, Martin?


HenryPUK said...

I read the Guardian every day but as with your Times, that's a commuter thing. Usually the front page "news" is no longer news to me, but it's always interesting to see the agenda. What I value about it, which I don't bother with online, is the analysis, the entertainment (ie columnists) and the football. But of course, it isn't a magazine.
The only magazine that I subscribe to is the LRB, which I value for its quality threshold and serendipitous mix of subject matter. I'm too scared of getting (probably justifiably) punched in the face to use it as a badge, but I do read it in the bath...

Andrew Orange said...

Thanks henrypuke. The serendipity quality is an important one, isn't it?

It's a point on which magazines and newspapers score much more highly than the "the news will find me" aspect of the social Internet. I wonder if readers are on the whole conscious of it?

dpotter said...

I used to subscribe to tons of magazines and don't any more. But I recently regretted having let my Newsweek subscription lapse and decided to renew it. Why? I don't read it to keep up on the news, which I get daily in so many forms here in the US (newspaper home delivery, online, radio--public and commercial--and both broadcast and cable TV). But I found that the print version of Newsweek helps me stay current on stuff I wouldn't read or hear about otherwise, especially pop culture. It's not just a matter of serendipity, either. I deliberately read the magazine from back to front and stop when I get to the stories I already know about. Years ago, I would have read it front to back.

Andrew Orange said...

Hi dpotter

I like this idea of reading the magazine "from back to front and stop when I get to the stories I already know about.

I wonder if news websites should introduce "least read" lists as well as a "most read".