Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Small: The New Big in Publishing

When it comes to technology and publishing, everything seems to be getting smaller. Newspaper articles are shorter (think USA Today) because our MTV generation wants quick-and-dirty. We don't have time to dig very deep (think National Geographic). If you doubt it, check out this hilarious skit about Jet magazine from Comedy Central's Chocolate News. It gives you a new appreciation for those five-dollar gift books whose covers say Native American Wisdom or Tips for Women Who Do Too Much. Even the small publisher--the self-published individual!--is slowly making inroads into the industry, particularly in nonfiction.

I haven't bought a Kindle yet, for two main reasons: (1) I'm a traditionalist when it comes to magazines and books, and I like to touch the bindings, rip out magazine pages, and hang on to them far longer than the typical person would. And (2) the way cell-phone technology is going, you'll be able to download books to your BlackBerry pretty soon (if not already).

If magazines are more your taste, check out Zinio, the online newsstand where you can subscribe to digital versions of your favorite (and least favorite) magazines. Check out the free samples, too. Considering that paper is the largest expense for most publishers, magazines stand to profit a lot more per issue if you download their product. (You'll note that the subscription rates really aren't much different than what you're used to paying for the glossy paper version.)

Now if only the auto industry did this, we'd be living like the Jetsons by now.

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