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Print Publishing is Dead…Or is it?

Friday’s post by IDG SVP of online, Colin Crawford, was one that hit my radar and I immediately forward his permalink to my bride (with whom I co-own a small publishing company) as well as several other senior level people in publishing I’m involved or acquainted with so they could see what he revealed…and think about this piece of evidence with respect to their own businesses.

Then Scott Karp posts about Colin’s writing and goes further to discuss the rapid acceleration in the death of print publishing. When I posted back in October about one clear death rattle for the printing industry — namely prepress behemoth Banta closing a big shop four minutes from my offices — it was interesting to me that it had taken roughly eight years for their business to downtrend as prepress activities migrated to the desktop and online increasingly became more important to their customers delivering content.

Though I’m still a consumer of print newspapers (Minneapolis StarTribune, New York Times, Wall Street Journal) I’ve let most of my magazine subscriptions to Forbes, Fast Company, Fortune and others lapse, keeping only BusinessWeek and Wired. Most of the 60+ trade publications I used to receive in print (e.g., Computerworld, eWeek, CIO Insight, Information Week, et al) I now read skim through an RSS reader.

For me, I find that the #1 issue with print publications is cycle time and the inherent inefficiency and time lags this creates. The number of cycles it takes to gather, edit, and decide what should be published in the limited real estate on a printed page means that I’ve already exhausted the topic by the time the print version appears.

Case in point: When Steve Jobs put up his public manifesto entitled, “Thoughts on Music” discussing digital rights management (DRM) in the music industry,  there was an absolute explosion of conversation in the blogosphere which I watched unfold on Techmeme…and read several perspectives from blogger’s I trust. By the time more traditional publications weighed in with their perspectives, I’d already formed my opinion and no longer cared what they thought. Instead I looked online for what reactions might emerge from the music industry which were forthcoming pretty quickly…and the story continued to unfold.

So is print publishing dead or not?

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