Years ago, when the first e-book readers hit the market, I refused to accept it as a valid medium for the written word. I romantically held on to my books and the unmistakable smell of their pages. Growing up as a book lover, I just couldn’t come to terms with a world in which real-life books didn’t have a place.
As a magazine editor, the notion that print is dead (or has been dying at an increasingly rapid pace) is something I just never wanted to think about, as accepting this idea would shatter my original career aspirations. Call it denial, optimism, or whatever you may–I wasn’t ready to let go of my vision of one day becoming editor-in-chief of a big name consumer magazine… a magazine that would arrive on people’s door steps each month, be sold at your local news stand, or sit longing to be read by bored patients in the waiting room of the doctor’s office.
But along came blogs, social media, smart phones, and the iPad. There was no getting around the fact that publishers had no choice but to adapt to technology that seems to change at the speed of light these days. Newspapers? What’s that? I don’t know a single person who still reads an actual paper today as his or her main source of information.
The truth is that digital is king. People lead busy lives and/or have extremely short attention spans lately and crave bite-sized, shareable content. They want lists and bullet points. Infographics! (god, I’m obsessed with those) They want links to related articles. And photos. Boy, do they want photos… I get it. Visuals are sexy. They sell.
And so, this leaves us in a media landscape that’s much different than that of just even a couple years ago. Print has no choice but to evolve into these new platforms unless it plans on taking the fast road to the grave. But the thing is, much to my own chagrin years back, I’m finally on board. I’ve become one of those people with very little patience for reading multi-page stories. If your headline or deck doesn’t catch my attention, I’m moving on to the next thing within seconds. Give it to me fast, and you better entertain me while you’re at it. Yes, I’ve created a monster.
I’m not ashamed to admit this. I will always have a penchant for actual books and magazines (which I’m sure will be considered vintage collector’s items sooner than we think), but I totally understand why it’s so much easier and convenient to read and store these items digitally. I’m currently sitting in an apartment (that I moved to nearly three months ago) surrounded by about 8 unpacked boxes of mostly books. And guess why they’re still unpacked? Because none of this is essential to my daily life. But do you think my Macbook, iPhone, or iPad are still stored in a box?