Monday, March 28, 2011

Shocking, but not Really

Plastics News is reporting that two stalwarts of the plastics publishing industry, "Injection Molding" and "Modern Plastics" are shutting down their print editions, moving to an online only option.

As the headline states, this is both shocking to me, but at the same time, not really so. This is just another step in the reformation of media [*].

While I am glad to see that an online format will still exist, I am fearful. The problem that have so far with other magazines that have gone to an electronic format is that they are still stuck in a print outlook. I'm sure you've seen the ones where the online images are flayed out just like a printed magazine, and they even have cute little graphic that makes it look like your turning a physical page over. The whole effort takes so long to load up that I just don't bother with it, whereas with a print magazine, I would more or less flip through every page to see if any catches my eye. At most with the new formats, I will look at the table of contents and then very specifically go to just an article of interest.

So to the publishers, if you are reading this (and I am sure you are), do this changeover right. DO NOT make the online magazine look like a physical magazine that takes far too long to load. Make it look like a webpage, with links that load quickly, maybe the TOC on the left-hand side so I can jump around, whatever. There are plenty of people with creative imaginations that can make this fantastic. But if you go with the standard fall back, you will lose me as a reader of what I normally consider required reading.

[*] Commonly called the decline of journalism or some such moniker. I see it as a shift to a new form; I'm just not sure what. Consider that the New York Times is going back to a limited-free access form, and that local newspapers are still thriving (by local, I don't mean the major news paper that covers an entire metro area, but the really small, weekly papers that cover very small parts of it), the role of the internet on print media has not be completely played out just yet.

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