Soapbox Surfing About Swimming in Print

Rikki Endsley

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Mar 05, 2010 GMT
Rikki Kite

I think about magazines all the time, even on vacation when I look for Linux Pro on the newsstands everywhere I go (really, my vacation albums include our magazine in the wild). I think about online, too, but my passion is for print.

I've worked in print publishing my entire adult life, and it's how my spouse earns his living, too. In fact, on our honeymoon in Playa del Carmen we went to a scuba shop just to check out a magazine my husbands designs – and it looks just as good in Mexico as it does in Missouri or at the Scuba Shack in Kansas, maybe even better.

There used to be a time when people would say "Print is dead" to my face just to watch me climb on my soapbox and shake my fist as I speed-talked my way through my explanation of why they were wrong. Of course my argument was harder to back up while I watched magazines I loved – magazines I'd help create – end their print existence.

Today I saw an article about my former employer shuttering 31 print titles in 2009 and laying off 479 employees. And as discouraging as this news is to me, I'm reminded that we launched a new print magazine last year, and we weren't the only ones. Keep your eye on the newsstands for some exciting new titles as print continues to evolve.

Launching a print magazine in 2009 is much different than launching a magazine was a decade ago. Although no blood or tears went into launching Ubuntu User (thanks in part to my mantra, "I will not cry over a magazine, I will not cry over a magazine"), I think we all broke into a cold sweat a few times and there was a heart palpitation or two. I'm excited to be working with old friends on our new publication, including Amber Ankerholz (former editor in chief of Sys Admin Magazine) and Marcel Gagné. And now that we are well into 2010, I'm looking ahead at what's next for us in the media, particularly in print publishing.

Right after I read the story about the 2009 magazine closings, I read something else interesting online. Several magazine publishers have collaborated on a new campaign called Magazines: The Power of Print (which is also the name of my new favorite video on Youtube). The campaign focuses on the power of advertisements in print, pointing out research findings including "magazines deliver more ad impressions than TV or web in a half-hour period," "magazines are the #1 medium of engagement," "magazine ads garner the most attention," and "magazines rank #1 at influencing consumers to start a search online." Hey, you don't have to tell me that ads work – I've been known to sit with a magazine in my lap as I look up their advertisers online. And according to our 2009 reader survey, 85 percent of our readers have taken some action – including visiting an advertiser's site or further researching a product – after seeing an ad in an issue.

What I also found interesting is that this article says that during the 12-year existence of Google, magazine readership has actually increased by 11 percent. Yes!

As part of this new campaign, Michael Phelps appears in an ad next to the lines "We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines." Surfing is good, right? He's not saying "print good, Internet bad." Another ad in the campaign includes the headline "Will the Internet kill magazines? Did instant coffee kill coffee?"

From what I've seen, I'm going to love this campaign. It's a slick presentation of what I've spouted in speed talk on my impromptu soapbox: "You don't have to pick just one!!"

You can love the Internet, and your ebook reader, and your favorite magazines and good old-fashioned books – for that matter, kick back and enjoy a cave drawing with a Kindle in your hand if that's how you like it.

So here's my humble blog post, on the Internet, where I get on a virtual soapbox and gush about the wonderful world of print – soapbox surfing the Internet, while still swimming in print.

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