Magazine Article | March 7, 2018

Do You Believe Print Publications Are Dead?

Source: Life Science Leader

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

During the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this past January, I attended the Celgene breakout session. Following its conclusion, I handed the company’s CEO a copy of the January 2018 issue of Life Science Leader magazine. It was opened to the page featuring an article with Richard Bagger, EVP of corporate affairs and market access for Celgene, and it details Bagger’s once-in-a-lifetime experience of serving as executive director for the pre-election planning phase for the presidential transition. Holding the issue, Mark Alles asked, “Can I have this?” “Take two,” I said. Now imagine this same conversation, but instead of handing Alles a print magazine, I attempt to show him our online version on my phone, or some other electronic device. The “can I have this” question is no longer applicable, and telling him I’ll send him a link just doesn’t seem to hold the same significance.

For years, some people have insisted that print is dead. And though I’ll admit there are fewer print publications today than there were just a few years ago, I am not yet ready to concede its death. In fact, I am thinking just the opposite and believe we are on the verge of print’s resurgence, perhaps something similar to what’s being witnessed in the music industry with vinyl. Last year, Sony, which was the biggest producer of vinyl records through the 1980s, announced after a 28-year-manufacturing hiatus that it was bringing vinyl back. To be fair, some people believe that vinyl’s rebirth is merely a fad of nostalgia. But there are other reasons driving vinyl’s surging sales, such as sound quality and the simplicity of placing a needle on a record and hearing music, versus fiddling with computer file converters or dealing with digital rights management issues. But perhaps David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter, described vinyl’s revival best. “All the digital inventions (MP3s, iPods, Wi-Fi, cloud computing) that brought me free, disembodied music anywhere, anytime, made me value music I can own, display, touch, and feel with all my senses.” The same can be said for print.

Print is tangible, has permanence, and in its simplicity, allows readers to engage much more deeply than something bordered by flashing ads. How many times have you been skimming an article online, only to have your thought process interrupted by a pop-up ad or the unexpected transmission of audio/video? Print engages multiple senses, including touch. Speaking of touch, over the years we have received a significant amount of positive feedback on the cover of Life Science Leader’s print edition. For example, when I sat down to interview Clay Siegall for this month’s cover feature, he picked up the issue sitting between us and commented favorably on its texture. Another executive once commented, “It feels substantive.” That being said, we have also heard from a few saying they don’t care for the texture of our old cover. I say “old” because perhaps you noticed the slightly softer feel of this issue of Life Science Leader. While we hope you like it, there is something even more interesting to ponder, all because of print. You likely now hold an opinion about something you rarely (if ever) gave much thought — the texture of a print publication’s cover.