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  • Rand Pearsall, GPS

Is Print Really Dead?



Let’s look at magazines and newspapers.


I love magazines. One of the benefits of working in the ad industry was being on print comp lists. At one point, we probably received 25-30 magazines a month in the mail. And I read many of them. Taking a magazine on a train or plane – or to the beach – was a fact of life, and an often pleasurable one.


I tried to buy an issue of New York Magazine recently. It wasn’t in the local grocer. Wasn’t in Target. Checked CVS which had an entire rack of magazines by the prescription counter. Success?


Unless it is one of the few bestselling magazines (that are probably paying for featured shelf space), there was no way I could find it. As you can see in the photo above, many issues are packed closely and tightly together. 10 minutes later, with the help of the manager, no New York magazine.


This was horrible merchandising. Is it the result of magazines not selling very well anymore? Maybe, but then this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Make it hard for customers to find and buy a product and you know what will happen.


Pretty soon, magazines may only be available by online subscription or at the library.


And then there is newspaper. I was an avowed four-newspaper-a-day person. Two to three in the morning, the rest at night. Every day. Heck, I liked to read local papers left behind by others in airports. And I have been known to buy a Washington Post on occasion while living in New Jersey.


I still subscribe to two newspapers, the Journal and the Times. But as this is written, I have a 12-day backlog of unread newspapers waiting for me. Why? Because I have succumbed to getting most of my news online. But not from the Journal or the Times. Instead, print news comes into my home for free (and fast) through Yahoo, Facebook, email and Twitter.


For sure, you can read magazines and newspapers online. It’s just not the same. The browsing and fortuitous landing on an amazing article doesn’t seem to happen (except for clickbait articles on Jennifer Aniston’s bikinis through the years). And don’t even get me started about reading magazines on a phone. Or about today’s continuously eroding journalism standards.


So as one of the dying breed of hardcopy print lovers, I am ready to turn the page. I doubt print would be a key component on any ad schedule at this point. It is a niche player and not a very good one anymore.


Back in the day, the three biggest letters in print were RFP. Sadly, today we are down to RIP.


I’m sorry for our loss.

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