I just finished an interesting article in Fortune Magazine(the print version, I might add) about the e-reader technologies for magazines.
There are several ventures considering various types of e-readers that would download magazines onto tablets or paper-thin devices.
The article raises several questions, with which I concur, such as whether or not readers would want to purchase another separate device just to read magazines. Seems like it would be a much more reliable business venture to create magazines readable on the Kindle or iPhone.
As the article also questions, I wonder if consumers would actually pay for an e-magazine in the first place, when currently you can get so much magazine content online for free, which makes me wonder how periodicals would change their financial paradigm.
After reading the article, though I love all things tech, I realized I would really miss magazines that you can touch, hold, and browse through. E-reading seems so much more purposeful than the way I read magazines. A page loads one at a time , and its not something you can “flip” through, or tear a page out and post it on your bulletin board, or read by the pool and get the pages wet. For purposeful journal reading, such a device might work well–but for magazine “browsing” that many readers do, it seems ill-suited.
All of which brought to mind a very prescient speech I heard Molly Ivins give at the University of Texas. She described the real difficulties facing print newspapers and wondered how they could remain financially viable, and the perils for our society if they do not.
I think in this economic market we are going to see some real shifts, and we really do need to consider how to support those media that are significant and important to education and our society.
The economy may be the tipping point that Malcolm Gladwell writes about that will finally drive changes from print to online. It’s interesting that e-readers have taken so long to appear on the scene, actually. I recall hearing about these from Jenny Levine at Internet Librarian a number of years ago. It seems economic issues are accelerating these technologies.
But my question is–is this tipping point really what is best for our democracy?
If we lose print newspapers and/or magazines due to economic pressures, what have we lost? I’m all for e-reporting and blogs, but excellent newspapers and magazines really do unfold a story in a different way–both with their investigative abilities and the abilities of good print journalists to pull a story together well.
I have to wonder how this will evolve? And how will we as a society will respond? Will we continue to have side by side technologies for a long time? (like printed books which show no sign of having sales slow down alongside e-readers? Print magazines alongside electronic ones? What will the world feel like when/if everything is on a screen rather than on paper? Will our students notice?