Remember fax machines? I do, vaguely, though I honestly can’t tell you the last time I sent or received anything by fax. That’s because there are very few things nowadays that can’t be attached to an email, or uploaded to (and downloaded from) an FTP server or DropBox or Flickr or iCloud. And when all else fails, you can always just ask Scotty to beam it up.
It’s not that I miss faxing; heck, it wasn’t around long enough to warrant nostalgia. No, I bring it up because the main thing I remember about faxing is how quickly the question went from “Do you have a fax machine?” to “What do you mean you don’t have a fax machine”? to “Fax? Why don’t I just send you a PDF?” Well, it seems to me that we in the publishing world are riding the crest of another of those technological waves, this time regarding digital editions. That is, we are squarely between questions one and two. For the moment—and I do mean the moment—the question is “Do you have a digital edition?” But very soon the question will be “What do you mean you don’t have a digital edition?”
I don’t want to even think about question three in this context, because it will no doubt be something like, “Why do I need a digital edition when you can upload the August issue directly to my brain?” No, let’s not go there; let’s stick to subject of digital editions. It’s a concept that has been around, experimentally, for the past decade or so. But now, with iPads and other digital readers multiplying like tribbles (see how I did that? It’s another Star Trek allusion), digital magazine editions are proliferating apace. And some of them are pretty good—the key phrase being some of them. Indeed, some are spectacular, but others are pretty awful. The fact is, though, the touch-screen tablet has created the potential for an elegant and intuitive magazine experience. It is still inferior, in many minds, to the far more tactile experience of flipping through glossy paper pages. But it positively shines compared to the clumsy keyboard-and-mouse approach of a desktop or laptop computer.
So, mark my words (I’ve always wanted to say that!), the day is coming, and soon, I predict, that you will be able to read Chesapeake Bay Magazine on your iPad or Kindle Whoosit or Google Whatchamatablet. If you find this alarming, rest easy; I also predict that for the foreseeable future, we, along with most other magazines, will have to offer both print and digital versions. Ignoring either one for the sake of the other would be a grave mistake.
And what say you, dear reader? Given the choice with Chesapeake Bay Magazine, which would it be, print or tablet edition? Are you down with digital or are you a paper person now and forever? These, as the foregoing suggests are no longer idle questions, and I do not ask them idly. I ask, in fact, that you take our online “Print Vs. Digital Reader Survey.” Look for the link on the front page of our website, www.ChesapeakeBoating.net. Just answer the questions and click on “submit.” If that doesn’t work, ask Scotty to beam it up.