There has been a movement in the newspaper business from print editions to online editions. The Seattle Post-Intellegencer has printed its final edition and has chosen to shift the entire publication to the web. There is also a rumor that other large daily newspapers may opt to follow their lean and publish only digital online editions.
I will be curious to know how this transition progresses because these print and online offerings are very different from each other in their presentation and usage. Swapping print editions for online only does not appear to be an even replacement by any means. If anything, newspaper websites are a supplemental information source for print subscribers and an alternative to print and television news for all other users.
In our field of business-to-business publishing, we also have digital online editions of our magazines as well as magazine websites. So far, the large majority of the 51,000 subscribers of Hydraulics & Pneumatics prefer to receive our magazine in the printed form, but we do have about 7,000 digital readers. Our website which can be found at www.hydraulicspneumatics.com, is indeed a supplemental information source that has become widely used with over 45,000 unique monthly visitors. I don’t know for sure what the future holds for business-to-business publishing. I don’t know what percentage of people will want digital-only publications ten years from now. We in the communication business don’t even know what devices and formats will be developed and available next year or the year after. I never even heard of Twitter until about a month ago.
I do know this. The relationship between a reader and a printed newspaper is a special one. When the paper is delivered at the reader’s doorstep or purchased at a newsstand, it becomes “my information, my paper.” I own it and I can read it when and where I want to, scan the headlines, fold it, re-read it, and tear stuff out for later reference. The same is true for magazins and you are reading “your copy.”
Newspapers and magazines may get a little smaller; sports and local may need to be combined into one of only two sections. Classifieds may need to go digital-only.
But, when the day comes that there is only one newspaper left, I want to own it. I want to own it because there will be a great demand for it. That relationship is special.