Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book and magazines and internets, oh my!

Word of the day: en-dur-ance (noun) Lasting quality; duration:

I chose to pursue a career in publishing because of my love for books and magazines. I love reading them, holding them, smelling them (I only smell books, but man, a new book sure smells good!), gazing lovingly at them all lined up on my bookshelves. I will pick them up in bookstores and study their construction, look at the binding and end papers and check the registration and the font choices. I will judge a book by its cover; I have both bought and rejected books based on cover design. I will check a magazine’s page count before reading any content, particularly now that the recession has cut advertiser dollars and consumer magazines depend on advertiser dollars to balance out their editorial content. I dream about one day having a library in a turret of my castle, with floor-to-ceiling shelves, comfy leather club chairs and a sideboard with a decanter of scotch.

I like my books and magazines.

So I get a little annoyed when people outside of the industry tell me the publishing industry is faltering because of online content. Why read a magazine when it’s online? Why buy a book when you can get it digitally? Sure, there are people who will think like this, but I think they are the minority. Today on Masthead I discovered an article that agrees with me; here’s an excerpt:

Still, the flaw in the print person's perspective is in thinking that there is any relation between your print audience and your web audience. There is none. You are not undercutting your print product by publishing a website because the people who you can reach online have almost no overlap with the people who you reach in print. Your print readers don't want your website, and your web audience doesn't. want. your. paper. (or magazine). (There's a small overlap for whom that's not true -- many of whom are the mediavores who read articles like this one.) Audiences are more stratified by media habits than they are united by common interests.

The full article can be found here.

I don’t think books or magazines as printed entities are going anywhere. People are still going to read US Weekly while on the elliptical at the gym (or, if you’re a nerd like me, you’ll read Maclean’s) and are still going to curl up in bed at night with the latest Reginald Hill or Terry Pratchett book. (If you don’t read either of these authors, do so. NOW.)

Despite my love of actual, physical books, I am fascinated by the idea of the Kindle and other such products. While I would never use something like this to replace my stash of fiction (oh, how I love you fiction, genre and otherwise!), I think this would be useful for non-fiction books. My three thoughts: travel books, cookbooks and craft books. If I decided to pack it all in and go backpacking through Europe, I’d love to have a Kindle loaded with all the travel and language books I would need to get through the continent.

I’m also an avid baker and have this vision: a Kindle, loaded with all my favourite cookbooks, enclosed in a protective plastic case that I can hang from the underside of my cupboards so I can have the recipe in front of me, without taking up valuable counter space and when I need to scroll down to the next page, the plastic case will protect the device from my cookie-dough-covered fingers.

As for craft books, I knit and I love my pattern books but they’re not always easy to transport and the binding often keeps them from laying flat so I can read the pattern. Simple solution: all my books are on my Kindle and I can take them with me wherever I go. It would make shopping for yarn, needles and other supplies so much easier.

Even as a book lover, the Kindle would have a place in my life. But I’m still going to buy books – and more bookshelves to accommodate them. I’m going to buy Glamour every month from the friendly gentleman who runs the Gateway News stand at Sherbourne subway station and I’m going to continue to ask my mom to renew my subscription to The Hockey News every Christmas.

I really do think my industry is safe, for a little while at least. But once the baby boomers move off into the sunset and my more tech-savvy generation really starts taking control, who knows how things will change then?

(I do think that newspapers are in trouble. I've never had a newspaper subscription and likely never will, as I just find it more convenient to get my news online. Poor newspapers.)

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