Ignore the Inevitable at your own Peril

9 Nov

U.S. News Ceases Publication

With its December issue, U.S. News and World Reports will cease to exist in its current print form.  In case anyone was paying attention, U.S. News stopped publishing its weekly edition in 2008, and then moved to a monthly version since.  It is still well known for its print speciality guides to colleges and hospitals which will continue to be in print…for now.  Subscriptions to U.S. News has dwindled to around one million.  While this may seem like a lot, in the crazy world of magazines, where subscriptions are almost given away in the hope of attracting a meaningful audience that will attract advertisers, most are losing money.  News weeklies, including Time and Newsweek, have struggled as well with the rapid movement from print to digital news.

Digital Readers Win

I remember when I got my first Kindle.  The feeling was similar to when I purchased my first iPod.  I recognized that this was a paradigm shift that was going to change my reading experience.  To be honest, it was a better experience including a built-in dictionary, easy marking, note taking, and the ubiquitous availability on my Kindle, laptop, iPhone, and iPad.  The printed magazine can’t compete with this arsenal of features.

I felt the shift again when I purchased my iPad.  Now I was getting digital magazines and newspapers that had enhanced features.  The reader experience in the Wall Street Journal is arguably better than the print.  I am stopping my print subscription.  And sure, I am an early adaptor, but the writing is on the wall.  We are moving inextricably from the hard copy print version of newspapers, magazines, and books to the digital equivalent.  This is an inevitable direction that everyone in business and marketing must grasp.

We Can’t Hold on to the Past

I have yet to meet a person, regardless of their pleading that they “love the feel of a book” or “need to turn the pages of a newspaper”, who hasn’t recognized the superior experience delivered by digital print.  And even if there is a sector of readers who will always want the book or the magazine, eventually they will fade away as a new generation of digital print savvy consumers take hold, similar to the niche who still prefer vinyl records.  We are just seeing the implementation of digital texts in schools and universities.  This will be a disruptive change that will create a whole new generation of consumers preferring to receive their printed media digitally.

Make Sure Your Business isn’t Left Behind

As a marketer and business person, you ignore these types of inevitable seismic shifts at your business’ own peril.  In our modern world, change is a given, and you either embrace it or face extinction.  Yes it is brutal, but we do not have the luxury of waxing poetic about quaint memories of obsolete technologies.  The job of American business is still business, and more aptly making profits.  To be profitable, you need to sense the change, not fight it, or hope it doesn’t take hold, but seek to understand it and learn how to adapt you business to profit from it.  So kudos to U.S. News for reading the writing on the wall and moving decisively and rapidly to change their business model.  They deserve our support and admiration.


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