After four years of university and serious consideration about pursuing a career in law, I decided to follow my love of expression and the written word. I closed my eyes and followed my heart; it lead me to Toronto and I found myself enrolled at Centennial College in the Book and Magazine Publishing Program. I found myself engaged in the learning process for the first time in years. In between discovering the difference between an ARC and a blad, learning the proper use of who versus whom, and being lead into the world of Twitter and blogging (which, I must admit, was previously foreign terrain for me), my class made a lifestyle magazine called On The Danforth for which I was the associate art director, produced two layouts, and wrote two pieces. For the first time in a long time I felt as though I had accomplished something tangible.
When I showed the magazine to my loved ones, those truly significant in my life were very proud of me, requesting copies and even wanting me to sign them. Some people however were quick to conjecture (their expertise in everything except the publishing industry) that magazines and books were dying a slow but sure death. Let me assure the nay-sayers out there who are ready to cry “print is dead,” that this is not the case, far from it.
I am not a publishing expert but as an emerging professional in the industry I am able to look at the changing climate with fresh eyes; what I see is not death but transformation and opportunity. Throughout history, necessity has inspired technological advancement, and technological advancement has necessitated change. Many industries, publishing included, have had to adapt in this time of rapid technological progress. Our ability to succeed, both in print and in other expressive forms, depends on our ability, not to avoid change, but to adapt to it, which explains why I am so confident in the future of the written word. The best among us are even able to use these new inventions to the benefit of the industry; many professionals are using Twitter to network with other professionals and one book publisher is even tweeting their catalogue online.
The publishing industry is a chameleon, always changing to incorporate its surroundings but retaining its basic form–print. When radio became the dominant form of entertainment, books were read over the live wire; in later years books on tape were recorded and book sales were predicted to plummet as a result. They did not, in fact books sales rose to new heights. Now e-books are predicted to devastate the print industry and online magazines are prophesized to decimate print editions. I don’t buy the hype; instead I see these new inventions reaching a new, different audience.
There are people who will buy e-books and embrace online magazines, but a print junkie like me will never purchase an e-book or take to reading mags on the web. Frankly, the internet medium just isn’t as cosy or as portable. When I read a book it is an experience, a night in. Sometimes it involves a blanket, a couch, my cat curled up on my knee, and occasionally candlelight. To have such a night with a laptop perched on my legs is just not the same, and besides, there would be no room for my cat.
Book and magazine lovers are a devoted bunch; the future of print is safe in our hands. While the industry is changing and apocalyptic types are ready to predict its demise, I think the opposite is true; we are growing, changing, and gathering more followers.
Quick Benefits of Print versus Online:
- Portable: sure a laptop is too but you wouldn’t want to take it to the beach (or the bathroom!)
- Textual Experience: flipping pages is fun
- Doesn’t burn the lap as does a laptop, nor does it crash
- Can include cats
- Can keep books on a shelf to appear well-read, not so with e-books
What do you think? Will you buy and e-book? Have you already? Or will you stick to print like me? I’d love to hear from you!