Media Magazine

Print is Back, but Did It Ever Really Leave?

Posted on the 17 March 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: With early signs of spring comes the intriguing headline: is print in vogue again?  Well, we knew it all along, print is eternal. A happy William Powers joins our conversation

It happens in the world of fashion all the time: suddenly, gingham is back, or the little black dress is out but the little red dress is the rave, and how about those narrow ties the Beatles wore in their 1964 US tour?  Get one pronto, narrower is better.

So why am I not surprised when I read a headline that reads: Is Print in Vogue Again?

A better question: Did Print Ever Disappear?

William Powers, author of the bestseller Hamlet’s BlackBerry, and I conduct almost weekly email dialogs about the power, impact, and, indeed, resilience of print in its many manifestations.  William, as you know well, strongly believes that print is eternal.  We share the feeling and pass it on daily to clients worldwide.  It is not an easy sell sometimes.  Especially in the US, editors are skeptical about the “print is eternal”, and many do not believe that the print product they produce is eternal, in any case.  This, as I have said often here, is part of the problem.  An editor who does not feel passionate about print, will not do print happily or effectively.  Editors who wear the “print is eternal” t-shirt (there should be one distributed all over the newsrooms of the world) do print better.  Each day is a welcome to what print can do, as opposed to a farewell letter.

Back to the Is Print in Vogue Again? headline:  it is the happy (for print enthusiasts) tale of three high profile ex magazine editors who left print in search of the land of digital oz, but returned, a little dumbfounded, to the world of ink and paper.

They are back in a place where they feel comfortable, happy and accomplished.  They are all quoted saying that print is where they belong.  And because the three editors, who happen to be women, are youngish and well known, their expressions of solidarity with print extend the “print is eternal” thought.

The trio of editors on a journey back to print includes newly minted Newsweek editor, Tina Brown, who had said that she would never go back to print.  Her second issue of the newly revamped Newsweek is out now.  What does she have to say about her never never quote?

I guess I’ll have to eat my words” .

Another editor profiled, Pilar Guzman, now editor at Martha Stewart Living, had one of the best quotes:

Everyone is like, ‘It’s all digital! It’s all digital!’ but I think it will always be a mix, at least for a while.

Of course, it was William Powers who sent me the piece (why am I not surprised?).  He added:

Futurists and industry “experts” have been predicting the death of paper media for half a century now, and it’s yet to happen. How did they get it so wrong? By relying on abstract business models instead of their own experience.  Print on paper does things for us that digital media haven’t figured out how to do. Print lives with us here in the third dimension, and it works with our bodies and our minds in a way that feels refreshing and liberating—especially now, when so much of everyone’s life is trapped inside a two-dimensional screen.

This is why, if you follow the money, it leads back to print.  That will only change when our screens learn to do what paper has been doing for over two thousand years. It’s not as easy it looks.

By the way, William’s note included a delicious sentence which goes a long way towards the “print is eternal” thought:

Got from home Austin and my “South By Southwest” appearance late last night.  A great festival, brimming over with tech idealism.  I saw a LOT of young people with Moleskine notebooks.

The printed page, the Moleskine notebook where we write our thoughts or sketch our next great idea, is still here, and in the hands of youngsters who don’t remember life
without the Internet.

Viva print!

Of related interest:

This is a The New York Times story about South By Southwest . William Powers makes an appearance in the latter half:

For those who wish to read the Hamlet’s BlackBerry essay:

Our review of Tina Brown’s first Newsweek edition:

TheMarioBlog post #732

Finishing touches for the Malayala Manorama iPad app

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One of our “door screen” concepts: still work in progress. Capturing the spirit of the region in those first ten seconds.

Landed here today from Amsterdam via Dubai, and traded the lingering still cold winds of Europe for the heat of the tropics in scenic Kerala, in the southermost west coast of India.

Anyone contemplating a color palette of just gradations of green needs to come here and take a look at the lush tropical scenery. The roads are hilly and curve at every turn, from time to time a bus painted in a million bright colors appears in the distance, always with a name like the one, Sangeeta,  that almost touched us as my driver maneuvered one of those curves while I took a deep breath in the back seat. 

I am making another visit to Malayala Manorama, that much respected daily of the region, where we at Garcia Media worked years ago on the print edition redesign.  Right now, it is all about Malayala Manoram’s iPad app, which should be ready to roll in late March.  Apple has already approved it, and the icon is existing in the iTunes store, but we are here to do the final tweaking.  The newspaper’s headquarters is in Kottayam, a two and a a half hour drive from the Kochi airport, where I landed.

It is not a hotel stay for me here. Instead, the more personalized “guest house” that Malayala Manorama keeps for its guests, complete with a team of ready-to-help chef/butler that would be the envy of anyone staying at the Ritz or the Savoy.  Outside my window, coconut trees that invite themselves in through the window, lizards planted on the glass of the window looking in, banana trees, real tropical greenery, but, more importantly, a sense of serenity and peace that is a welcome relief for me in the midst of this 12-country, six week tour across continents.

Kerala iinspires contemplation, meditation, and it is no wonder that people come here to do tourism and nobody leaves without seeing the backwaters and getting Ayurvedic treatments—-incredibly effective and relaxing massages, sometimes performed by two therapists one of each side of your body, with oils that mix from 7 to 10 different types of herbal medicine, all based on the traditional Ayurvedic native to India.

An iPad for Malayala Manorama

This is the backdrop that surrounds me as I work with a young, energetic team that includes editors, designers and technical types, under the project leadership of Mariam Mathew.  We are now in the final stages of tweaking the app.  It is almost there.

Today we did that wonderful exercise that I call the skip and hop” through the app.

Now that the design is there, the technical aspects almost in place (are they ever totally in place?) , then it is time to navigate thru the app, asking questions related to skipping and hopping from one section to the other.

That is when you discover that sometimes you cannot get there from here.  Time for a tweak.  Time to add another line to that pop up navigator window.

By the end of today, we had skipped and hopped enough to know that, at least for version 1.0 that rolls out soon, one is likely to get to his destination without major problems.

Tomorrow: a workshop devoted to the creation of a few wow screens, as in pop ups or areas where content that is great in the printed edition can be stretched at the touch of a finger.

Stay tuned.

Until then, I go for a walk to admire the surroundings, get some inspiration and anticipate that chicken tikka that the chef is preparing.

Of interest today

-Apple’s iPad 2 is the ‘Holy Grail’ of computing

- USA: OC Register Plans iPad-Only Content For Tablet Relaunch

TheMarioBlog post #731

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