Most of us don’t read as many print periodicals as we used to. Quite a bit is available on the internet, and depending on the magazine or newspaper we might even subscribe to full electronic access without having hard copies delivered to our door.
There’s a sticking point, though. Advertisers don’t always get results from the internet, and publishers depend on paid advertising.
Some people insist that phasing out print editions will conserve paper. I don’t have statistics within reach, but the claim that computers save trees is debatable. Online shopping is the reason many of us receive cardboard boxes of merchandise we used to buy in stores. Face it, we’re using more corrugated cardboard now.
Americans’ affection for online retailing is also driving brick-and-mortar stores out of business, but that would require a separate blog post so for the time being I’ll leave it alone.
Just for fun, I’ll share a brief YouTube video showing the process of putting together print copies of The London Review of Books. Be sure to watch it with sound, to get the intensity.
If you’re a fan of old movies, try not to obsess on that disappointing scene in the 1937 Paul Muni film The Life of Emile Zola. In that film, the printing of the open letter in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, titled J’Accuse, was dumbed down for English speaking movie audiences. When it came off of the press, the bold print at the top read I Accuse.
Seriously, did the director believe English speaking people who were watching a movie about Zola needed a translation? Maybe the simplification was meant for audiences who just made a habit of seeing everything with Paul Muni. Whatever.
A newspaper or magazine printing operation is a good investment of paper, especially when the reading material isn’t complete horseshit. Public libraries make those materials available to patrons who can’t afford to shop at the local newsstand (when they can even find a newsstand), and no computer skills are required to read them.
Our society must continue to invest in print periodicals. That means we should buy newspapers and magazines, when we can afford them. Online editions are great for breaking news, but publishers are aware that many online editions’ days are numbered without print copies which we can actually hold in our hands — and read when the internet connection is cut off on the subway.