Print is NOT dead. Print IS Premium

I started my career as a writer and editor on a magazine staff in the waning days of “Old Media” content and advertising monopolies. Editorial budgets were gloriously large. Editorial payrolls were too (relatively speaking). E-mail was a wondrous invention and the internet was…a technical curiosity that my yellow-pad jotting, martini-lunch backslapping bosses on the business side of “Old Media” looked at with cute combination of arrogance and ignorance.

But then you all know the story. Billions of advertising dollars disappeared in the wake of the Dot.com boom and bust, 9/11, the global economic crisis, and more fatal to the long term health of my beloved “Old Media,” the internet made it possible for literally everyone to be a “publisher.” And I have to admit, watching an entire industry (and way of life) die or metamorphose from the inside wasn’t any fun.

Now that’s what a healthy magazine looks like.

But don’t worry, this story isn’t about me or a well-worn “back in the old days” lament. In fact, I’m not the first to report (or benefit from) the proliferation of new media and content marketing channels that drive an even bigger demand for good writing. But what’s not so obvious is the fact that cacophony of available content (often of questionable quality and dubious value) that’s constantly bombarding us from our phones, tablets, and desktop computers actually puts a premium on print. Print has changed and is obviously not the only way people consume media, but it’s definitely NOT dead. Let me explain.

I still write for yachting and luxury magazines like www.forbeslife.com that have made the transition from “old” to “new” media to varied degrees of success. And Swizzle Media is designed to entertain and inspire with long-form stories, photos, and videos that were just not possible in “old media.” And yes, most of my work appears online, but, my work that appears in print is different. In fact, I’m going to take a stand and say print is…better…(in certain situations).

Print is better because it looks better. It feels better. It provides a much more pleasant reading experience and a welcome respite from the glowing screens that we can’t seem to escape. Premium bands and high-end publications have always known this but…print (when it’s done right) is simply more exclusive.

It’s more designed and refined and as you’ll see, nothing illustrates this better than looking at one of my stories that just “hit the newsstands” as well as appeared in its entirety online recently. The screenshot below shows how the story appears on line. The cool thing is there’s a buzz about it, and there are hard (and useful) metrics that show it’s being read by thousands of people around the world but….

…this is what the opening spread of the print version looks like. Which one would you rather read? Which one do you think provides a more in-depth profile? Or most importantly for an advertiser, which one would you want to have your brand associated with?

The exact same story can in fact tell somewhat different stories. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing for advertisers. But I will say this, if you’re a premium brand, the value that comes from premium design and exclusivity of high-quality print material can not be overstated.

And call me “the master of the obvious” but, we all know that “new media” means that brands no longer need to be “advertisers” to tell their stories and communicate with their customers in worthwhile ways that can have a direct effect on their bottom line. I’m also a huge advocate for brands that create high-quality digital content that informs, educates, and inspires (rather than “promotes) their current and potential customers.

But, when it comes to the pure “wow” factor than many ultra-luxury brands shoot for, nothing compares with the exquisite quality that an oversized, hardcover book that’s filled with compelling stories and luscious photos can produce. For example, the coffee table book above that was created by the talented private aviation, yacht, and architecture designers at the UK-based Winch Designs is spectacular (and tells the story) in a way that a tweet, or a facebook post or a website just can’t be.

There I’ve said it. Print is not dead. In fact, in our hyper-digital age, print is the ultimate luxury.

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