David Kirkpatrick

August 23, 2010

The death of print

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:57 am

Wired‘s Chris Anderson has revised his prediction on electronic versus print delivery of content. Two years ago he said ink-on-paper would be the main delivery mechanism for magazines.

From the link, here he is this year:

In light of these developments, I emailed Anderson to ask whether or not he’d like to revise his estimate for the death of print.

He said, perhaps not surprisingly, that he now believes that within a decade most reading will be done on e-readers and tablets.

“I still think that ten years from now we’ll still have lots of print magazines, along with lots of print books, and they will be more-or-less like they are now. What I’ve changed my mind about is what fraction of the market they will be. E-readers, from tablets to smart phones, have matured faster than I thought they would back in 2008.”

That predictions for the “death of print” changed so drastically in the span of just two years tells us something about where we are on the hype and/or adoption curve of e-readers and their ilk.

Which is to say: we are coming up on an inflection point, beyond which rates of adoption explode, feedbacks and network effects kick in, and total market penetration becomes inevitable.

This is an interesting ongoing conversation. A conversation newspapers pooh-poohed to their great detriment. I love print. I read a novel last night on print, not on an e-reader. I love magazines and I love newspapers. But even though I held a book in my hands yesterday evening, right now all my magazine subscriptions have lapsed — down from a high of around 15 or so a number of years ago — and I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online and have for years. I let my local paper subscription go several years ago when the total page count dwindled to almost nothing while the price rose almost monthly. Plus I realized I had already digested almost all the news and op-ed pieces long before the paper arrived on my doorstep.

So as much as I love print and physically holding, smelling and interacting with books, magazines and newspapers, the reality is I do almost all my considerable daily reading online now, and have for many years. The effective death of print might actually come to pass — maybe sooner than later.

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