Last month, you may recall, I blathered on about print versus digital publishing. Specifically, I said I think it’s just a matter of time, very little time, before this and every other magazine on the planet will be made available to you whichever way you want it: physically delivered to your mailbox, as it is now, or downloaded to your digital tablet by way of the interweb’s google tubes. Or both, of course. And I invited you to tell us to tell us, by way of an online survey, which of those options you would choose—print, digital or both—if presented with the choice for good ol’ Chesapeake Bay Magazine.
It’s clear to me from the first wave of responses (nearly two-thirds of which included a sentence or three of commentary) that you have evolved a bit since the last time I asked for your input on this subject. That was perhaps five or six years ago, when I invited you to join what we called our Reader Panel, which allowed me from time to time to ask, via e-mail, for your opinion on important matters. About 150 readers signed up, and one of the very first questions I asked was whether or not they were interested in a digital edition of CBM. As I recall, one person said yes. . . two if you count “it depends” as a yes. For the other 40 or so respondents, the answer was something along the lines of—and this is an actual quote from at least one of them—“Hell NO!”
This time around it was a starkly different picture. Granted, there were more than a few answers of the crankypants variety (and I say that with love, because I count myself as one of them), such as, “Don’t you dare go digital!” or, a little more strident, “If you take away my print CBM, I will kill you!” But I was surprised to see that of the 94 responses, including the handful who answered the question directly on our Facebook page, the “both” votes slightly outnumbered the “print only” votes: 42 for both print and digital and 39 for print only. And an even dozen are ready for digital only. There was one write-in vote, for “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.” This was an excellent and well-considered answer, but I sense the respondent did not fully understand the question.
It’s the digital tablet, I think, that explains the difference between your answers now and your answers five or six years ago. When I posed the question to the Reader Panel, there was no such thing as an iPad or Kindle. Does a digital tablet exactly replicate the magazine experience? Of course not. Is it a lot closer to doing so than a laptop or desktop ever was? Yes, yes and yes again. I now have a few magazine subscriptions on my iPad, and I’ll admit that best of them do in fact make for an engaging experience. They’re beginning to soothe the savage crankypants. So the adventure continues, and I shall keep you apprised of our progress. If you haven’t chimed in already, please feel free to do so; the survey will remain open for another few weeks. Just go our website, www.ChesapeakeBoating.net, and click on “Print Vs. Digital Reader Survey” in the Quick Links section on the front page.
Tim Sayles, Editor