Now playing: “Down In Flames” by Cleopold
Yesterday, I had a seminar on Magazine Production for Print and Digital, in which we had an interesting discussion about whether print magazines would eventually become extinct, with almost every kind of written content available in the deep dark depths of the Internet.
We discussed whether it was even viable to publish a print magazine to the mass (or even niche) market today; with all the possibilities offered by the digital age, we agreed that pretty much everything in print publication has been done already, so it would be fairly risky to produce a print magazine with most magazine genres already at peak saturation. There has to be a unique take or spin on things, and arguably, it also has to have some sort of presence online to become more known and relevant (what do you think?).
The cultural differences between older generations and today’s Generation Y shows a difference in the value of magazines. We surmised that there was a sense of ritual for those who used to read teen magazines in the 1990s to early 2000s – we remembered when we would sit on a bed and flick through Shout together, taking naff quizzes and reciting aloud embarrassing stories from its pages. In a slightly shocking yet enlightening comparison, we just couldn’t imagine teens these days reading the likes of Mizz, Sugar or Bliss Magazine. These days (no generalisation intended), we observed that Generation Y aspire to read more mature and influential magazines, assuming they read magazines at all. These days, I see 14-year-olds reading Vogue or Elle, or on the other hand slightly less mainstream-glossy, slightly more edgy-arty but still high-profile Dazed, i-D or LOVE. This comes to show that, even though the majority of us, the young and not-so-young, are entangled in the social network of the world wide web, there is currently still value for good old fashioned physical magazines.
With this being a concern for many of those in the print publication industry, I believe that there will always be a place for print magazines, even in the distant future, when the world will be taken over by our own evil creation known as technology (kidding, kidding).
Digital publication makes for easy access to all sorts of media circulated online and also allows limitless social interaction and discussion within a community. The unlimited capacity of the Internet is something of a disadvantage for print magazines – some have seen the opportunity to jump online, ceasing print publication altogether and making the move to digital, such as Company and Sublime.
However, the sentimentality and physicality of a print magazine will always have a place in many individuals’ hearts. While we agreed that we all avidly consume digital publication on a regular basis, that doesn’t deny the fun in flicking through the latest issues on the magazine stand. It doesn’t deny the ritual in collecting issues, or the sheer delight when your coveted subscription gets this month’s issue delivered straight to your door.
In our discussion of the production of magazine (there’s been a lot of that lately – I’m sub-editor for the magazine our course is working on!), we’ve painstakingly gone through every physical detail that a magazine’s comprised of; this has gained me an appreciation for every single consideration that goes into making the consumption of a magazine a seamless and unique experience. From the texture and thickness of the paper, to the dimensions of the magazine, to even the inclusion of freebies…it’s the pure physicality of it all that makes written content more life-like and real, something a lot more tangible compared to a two-dimensional digital screen.
Print magazines create a unique connection between paper and person that digital just can’t match. Editorial images also look much better on paper than trapped in the lifeless realms of a box (sorry, Internet, I still love u). There’s more dimension to a magazine, more bite, more heart, there’s more to lap up. As Sex And The City’s Carrie Bradshaw once said, “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I found it fed me more.”.
That’s the thing – magazines have a certain sentimental value; we buy this magazine because aside from having some good stuff in there, it makes for a great coffee table item; we buy this magazine because it’s just a great thing to have in your bag and whack out on that long journey; we buy this magazine because its gloss and perfumed scent makes us feel glamourous and important. The magazine is something that has held such significant value in everyday life to so many throughout the last two centuries that it is historically embedded as a culturally irreplaceable object. An object held in high esteem. An object cherished. Long live the magazine.
Do you still read print magazines? If so, which do you read, and what do they mean to you? Feel free to start a discussion in the comments, I’d love to hear what my fellow bloggers have to say!
The Style Banks x