Why paper is a better idea for some publications

by Carl Natale on September 15, 2010

The Paris Review

It's not a magazine, it's an experience

I’m an online guy. I believe the Internet is revolutionizing how we collect information. It has so many advantages over print publications.

So when the Lorin Stein, editor of the The Paris Review, says they’re predominantly a paper magazine and will stay that way, I have to say that I agree. Here he is explaining it in a Marketplace interview:

STEIN: We want the reader to be absorbed; it’s not a thing to skim, it’s a thing to read and to really get lost in. It’s a refuge. Technologically, paper and ink are still the way to go. I don’t know about you, but I still can’t quite get absorbed in the gizmo that just delivered an e-mail from my boss, and I certainly don’t want to get an e-mail from my boss while I’m reading a story.

via Staying in paper in a digital world | Marketplace From American Public Media.

I’ve been reading about the problems with digital distraction lately, and this fits in nicely. The Paris Review is pitching an experience that takes you away from all that.

Note that Stein isn’t pitching poetry and fiction. It’s a haven from the always-connected world.

Note that this isn’t a marketing strategy for the masses. It’s a premium niche. (Subscription to the quarterly is $50 per year) Stein also pitches the quality of the writing.

The two ideas – absorbing reading and quality – fit nicely together. Readers feel like they can’t get this experience anywhere else. This is the thinking that they need to survive.

Note that quarterly does have a daily digital version. So Stein isn’t a luddite. They’re dipping their toes into online publishing to stay relevant and give readers a different experience. Good for them.

Publications need to understand the medium work to its strengths.

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