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April 17, 2016

But is it art? How print publishing will survive.

I started my career in print media. Books, magazines and newspapers fascinated me, for within them lay endless knowledge, experiences and adventures for my young mind. As a young teen I was lucky enough to find a copy of a Men’s Health magazine, where in her article a young writer described something called the female orgasm. I had become quite confident in my ability to hand(le) my own orgasms and here it seemed the world was laying a challenge before me. Challenge accepted. The article went on to provide detailed graphics and instructions – methodology that I would fumble through later that afternoon with an unknowing girlfriend. As life would show me time and again, some things get better with practice.

Whenever I had a question in my mind or heart I would consult with some form of published media for the answers. Libraries were vaults of gold. This was just before the boom of the internet, broadband and satellite TV in Africa. Later my “research” into the carnal pleasures crossed the chasm from print to the interwebs.

I still found myself longing for the occasional Playboy, National Geographic or Financial Times if I’m feeling scholarly. There is something about the tactile experience of turning the page to uncover a beautifully perfect marriage of text and images. There is something nostalgic about black ink on the tips of my fingers after paging through a fresh newspaper, lost in the grandeur of its size and sophistication.

I worked for a major media and publishing company after school. I’ve seen things come “hot off the presses” and can tell you the difference between stocks of paper or types of binding, and the impression one gets when touching each one. Print publishing as a media consumption medium is dying, but it’s unlikely it will ever go extinct. The human senses are amazing. Research has shown that we have higher cognitive and hormonal activity when multiple senses are engaged. Thus any item, that stimulates our eyes, brain and hands in a pleasing way will not disappear from our environment.

Many books, newspapers and magazines will die off as digital takes over the main delivery channel. But those print mediums and products that remain will embrace the concept of being “art” pieces. Magazines that are so beautiful to look at, touch and page through that we embrace them, even if they’re impractical. We will want books that are so creative in size, layout, design and manufacturing materials because we’re not just buying the content, we’re buying showpieces for our coffee table or indulging our nostalgia.

Movies have not replaced live theatre. Circue du Soleil “The Movie” sucks compared to the live show. Digital will not kill print – just cause it to evolve into art. Innovators, artists and entrepreneurs rejoice!