A few years ago you’d be forgiven for thinking an event about print magazines would be ripe for self-flagellation, for mag heads to come together and boo and hiss at the rising tide of digital publishing lapping at the door.
But times have changed. The Modern Magazine 2017 conference recently saw some of the more innovative magazine titles gather together. The line-up featured a steady stream of editors, designers and publishers from the grand dames – the New Yorker, Popeye – to Migrant Journal, a six-issue newbie.
The medium we were all gathered together to discuss is no longer suffixed by the two words: “is dead.” No one mentioned it. Not even once.
In both the consumer and IC worlds print is very much alive. It’s still valued and, as long as it’s done well, remains a distinct form of communication, an addition to and an antidote to the screen.
So here’s why some of those at ModMag17 think print still works for them.
‘It’s a distillation of everything we post online’
itsnicethat.com is visited by a million people each month. And yet the magazine it produces – Printed Pages – has a print run of just 5,000 copies. So, why spend the money?
“Printed Pages allows us to take a step back and question ourselves,” said Owen Pritchard, the site’s editor. “Of all of these things we post online, what is lasting? What is actually good?”
He said the process of putting together a 200+page magazine, which takes a month, as supposed to the hour (or less) it takes to add a post on the website, encourages discussion, a deeper analysis.
“Ultimately it strengthens our business,” he said.
‘Print ages better than digital’
Migrant Journal is a “political and cultural endeavour we hope will be a valuable resource in the libraries of the future.”
Elegantly designed and quasi-academic in tone, the editorial team of four argue that they feel things are too transient online. The print product allows them to capture the “thoughts of a generation” into a “lasting reference; a layered archive.”
‘The print cannot be perfected’
If there were a perfect case study for the lasting value of print, then you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than the New Yorker. Little changed in format since it was launched in 1925, it is one of the most recognisable and trusted periodicals on the newsstand.
And though the New Yorker is constantly looking at ways to improve their website, with new, short-form commentary sections, animations and video, the print edition publishes great, trusted stories that you wont find anywhere else. It’s recently seen a spike in its sales, particularly among millennials.
“The magazine is successful, and lucrative, because of the quality of the writing,” said Nicholas Blechman, the magazine’s creative director.
And long may that continue.