The future of magazines should look like magazines

Here’s one of those posts that seems to confuse people. They don’t understand how someone can embrace digital content as I do — but not embrace the notion that the print magazine format is endangered.

Here’s a hint to understanding this: I think that a magazine company (or any media company, print or digital) that is built entirely on the media-business model (advertising and subscriptions) is endangered.

However, I think magazines (and other media) that support another business model are not endangered.

Today, a post on Pandodaily has the subject line, “The Future of Magazines Should Look a Lot Like Spotify.”

The 12 readers of this blog know I think the word “magazines” should refer to the paper kind of magazine, like the word “book” is used to differentiate between the p-book and the e-book. So, I’m going to start using the term emagazine to refer to something that is digital and magazine to refer to the print-format.

While I don’t disagree with the point of view of the writer, it follows in a long tradition of such suggestions that go something like this: The way to save something is to kill it.

I feel certain the writer would explain that he means “saving” means something other “saving the print version of a magazine,” but when I parse the sentence, one has to read his mind to understand what he means.

No matter the intention or meaning, the essay advocates something different than the headline: The print magazine format can be killed and the articles inside the magazine can be distributed in another way — like Spotify does (which, I’m not quite sure has saved the music business yet, but whatever). That will save something, but it won’t be magazines that are saved. And I’m fine with that — magazines that can’t survive as print magazines should die.

I’m not going to repeat the countless posts on this blog that explain the magazine business model vs. magazines that support another business model. Nor am I going to point back at articles that explain the difference in magazines for a business to business audience vs. those in the consumer marketplace. Nor am I going to point to the posts that, in many different ways, explain why this is a great era for writers and other creatives because there are so many opportunities (like Spotify) to distribute great writing, music or video. (In other words, why I agree with one-half of what the writer advocates.)

What I’ll do, however, is point to a Wikipedia article about the 1995 book called Being Digital. It is a re-packaged collection of individual essays written by Nicholas Negroponte that first appeared in the magazine and website (yes, back in 1995) Wired.com.

In the book, Negroponte (among other things) describes something he started talking about in  1970s called the Daily Me.

What was this 1970s concept called the Daily Me?

It’s sort of like a Spotify for articles found in newspapers and magazines … and blog posts.