First of all, thanks to all the readers who shared their thoughts on print versus digital publishing, a subject I explored last month--and threw open for discussion. At the risk of sounding boastful, I will first point out that I correctly anticipated what most of you might have to say. Do whatever you want digitally, many of you said, in so many words--but please keep the printed magazine. "We understand you have to keep up with the times," one reader wrote. "but don't even think about discontinuing the printed version!" Others said we absolutely should not discontinue the printed magazine, while still others said we should never, ever, under any circumstance, discontinue the printed magazine. Finally, there was the school of thought that discontinuing the printed magazine would be a really bad idea.
It wasn't easy, but I managed to find a common theme here. That is, I'm sensing you want us to keep the printed magazine.
Well, that's good, because it's very much in line with what I want--and with what we want at Chesapeake Bay Magazine. To the extent we have control over the direction in which technological progress drags us, we intend to stick with the our print product as long as there's an audience for it and an advertising community to support it.
Re-reading last month's column, I see the sentence that likely prompted most of the comments. "What's changing now," I wrote, "is not how the product is printed, but whether it is printed at all." I was not referring to CBM, but rather the publishing world in general. It was in the next sentence that I turned to this magazine in particular, saying it won't be long before we're producing both a print and digital version of CBM. And I do indeed think that is where magazines like ours are headed, and soon--not to a world of all-digital-all-the-time, but to a world of digital and print, or both, and a few other things that haven't even been invented yet.
I like to describe it in evolutionary terms. Daily newspapers are the fish that are, as we speak, growing legs. Soon they'll have lungs and will walk out of the water (metaphor translation: they'll become primarily digital products). And journalism will not only survive but perhaps be stronger than ever. Huzzah. Sorry, is my Jimmy Olsen showing? Magazines, however . . . ah, we magazines will do more than grow legs and lungs; we'll also keep our fins and gills (the print magazine), and we'll grow wings . . . and we'll have built-in GPS, and landing gear, um, x-ray vision and invisibility cloaks. Yeah. Really. It's my metaphor, so I can do that.
So it boils down to this, dear reader: Our print version will live on, but it will no longer be the only channel through which we reach you. That much is true already. We have a rollicking good website, as well as nearly 2,600 Facebook followers. And, as I said last month, some day soon we'll be offering you the choice of the 21st-century: print or digital.
It's all very evolutionary. And, in my humble opinion, it's all good news.