For over a decade, the technorati have been heralding the death of print, and the publishers laughed. Now, with the lagging economy and sagging ad sales, PC Magazine is the latest iconic brand to shut down the presses. And nobody's laughing any more.
Just this morning, Ziff-Davis Media announced that as of January 2009, their flagship PC Magazine will join #3 news magazine US News & World Report and 100 year old Christian Science Monitor as the latest major periodical to fold 'em up. Maybe not as surprising as the other two, as Ziff-Davis has recently emerged from a long Chapter 11 reorganization. But saving money on ink and paper and pushing a few warm bodies off the payroll isn't the motivation behind this move. The fact is that for a while now, the fast-breaking world of PC tech news has been served up better and faster by a slew of online competition -- no subscription fee required. If it is to survive in any capacity, PC Magazine will now have to compete in the crowded webscape harder than ever.
Make so mistake; other print titans will fall faster than the trees they're made from before it's over. And while some of us who saw it coming may take heart in being vindicated; I for one will miss some of them when they go.
I have to admit that while I wasn't an avid reader of any of the three thus far mentioned, I do love reading the few magazines I still subscribe to. I still read Vanity Fair, despite the aggravating plethora of ads. I was a long time New Yorker reader until fairly recently (far fewer ads); and while it undoubtedly still features the best writing you're likely to find anywhere, you need to be retired or independently wealthy to have enough time to digest it properly. The rest are mostly bike magazines -- Cycle World, Rider, Motorcyclist -- and yeah, I even read the ads (a scantily-clad babe straddling an Italian sportbike is a sure-fire way to get my attention). There is something visceral about holding these little slices of glossy goodness in your hot little hands -- the tantalizing covers and shouting headlines; smelling the VOCs waft from the freshly printed pages; quickly flipping to your favorite "first-read" section. These are among life's small and fleeting pleasures, and it's an experience the Web can't replace.
It will be interesting to see how these (and the other publications sure to follow) will fare on the ever-evolving Web. And in the meantime, I'll be waiting for a browsing device I can fold up and take with me to the bathroom. If and when that technology ever arrives, I'm sure PCMag.com will be first to break the news.
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