An interesting thing is happening in the digital publishing world. We’ve already talked about digital-only publications like Allrecipes launching a print edition, and Newsweek’s recent announcement that they are returning to print.
Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting on more titles that were born online choosing to launch print editions.
“The reasons for this unlikely resurgence of print are complex, rooted both in business sense and sentimentality,” reports Matt Pearce. “Rather than rising and falling on a single platform, many brands today would rather reach for bigger audiences across multiple channels that publish — and profit — side by side.”
It certainly makes good business sense to take this approach. But Pearce suggests there is something more to it than simple channel diversification.
He writes, “in some cases, the turn to print reflects a reaction to the very things that have made digital publishing so appealing: Where the Web is open-ended and interactive, print is closed and more authoritative, like a street that goes only one way. The Web is timelier, but paper lasts longer than browser tabs.”
Pearce quotes Hazlitt’s editor in chief Chris Fey as using words like “intimacy,” “permanence” and “presence” when describing the print experience, and suggests that this kind of authority appeals to a generation that was born and raised on digital. To this audience, print is new.
In the music industry, for example, indie-music site Pitchfork.com is now publishing a quarterly print edition. For their audience, who primarily collect music in digital form, holding a printed publication likely gives the kind of buzz their parents felt when holding that newest album in their hands, pulling out the sleeve and pouring over the liner notes. It’s a personal experience of ownership and investment, not just in the music but in the lives of the people who create it and the world in which it exists.
We get it. And we believe more and more of the “digital generation” will crave that experience as they truly get their hands on content in print.