Miruna Codeanu

If print does survive, thank the hipsters

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

The print is dead. Print is dying. Print will be dead. Print shall be dead. Will it die? We can’t know for sure. We can assume and actually, we all assume, even if it’s me, or some editor from Forbes or Business Insider. We can’t tell whether its tomorrow or the day after tomorrow the day print will die. Actually, it’s not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It’s a process: the process of dying and that takes time.

Newsweek and Financial Times in Germany have recently had their last print issues. They were born as print magazines, but they will continue existing as online magazines. It doesn’t really mean dying, it could mean moving on. If we see this in terms of print vs digital we could safely say print lost. But there’s more to it, there’s always more to a war happening in a market: niches. Media, as anything else to be sold on this planet and on future planets is targeting segments of public. We have general newspapers, tabloids, economy, lifestyle, art, culture, etc. The first to die, were of course the general news. The moment online news portals and bloggers started to rise, general newspapers were the first victims. Countless reasons we all know: we were firstly checking the computer for news, not buying a newspaper, then we were getting updates  in the office, later on we were making news with the rise of social media and smartphones. Newspapers were no longer serving their purpose: the headlines were no longer news, the content of an article was probably out of the date by the time it got published and so on. That is with the general newspapers. Niche newspapers and magazines are a different story.

“Newspaper” is a compound word, made from news and paper, ca veut dire news a paper. Paper is no longer loved, quite contrary, paper is subject to a witch-hunt: “please consider before print”, “printing this will kill x trees”, “please consider the environment before printing” and so on are just some of the texts that accompany any form of text sent via email. That could be directly translated into: printing is not good, printing is an attack to human life. The message is clear: don’t print! We no longer print, we no longer buy books, and we no eventually no longer bought newspapers. Even so, new magazines are being released and some of them even make it to the market. What do they do they do? It’s nothing they do in particular, it’s the audience to whom they are being targeted: niches. Consumption is not about need, consumption is about a status: you don’t need the GalaxyS3, you don’t need the Iphone5, you don’t need that Cartier watch, not in the way “need” is commonly understood. Your Iphone5, GalaxyS3, Louis Vuitton purse, Louboutin shoes translates into status. So does reading a newspaper nowadays. You look better with an Ipad in your hand then even a print magazine, but even like that, it is still cool to hold the hard copy of some magazines: art magazines, hipster magazines. Hipsters like it vintage. Holding a hard copy is vintage enough to look good on a hipster. The print industry has to understand its audience. It will survive but it will survive thanks to its audience, only that the print industry has not understood its remaining audience.

The future will be online but there’s something I do believe in: nostalgia sells things, basically anything. Only that newspapers were all about the future, not about nostalgia. Those surviving will be those understanding that their nowadays audience: hipsters and that their print editions must be collectibles. If you don’t think hipster generation matters, take a look at this Business Insider gallery of the hipster revolution at La Guardia airport.

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  1. We no longer print, we no longer buy books, and we no eventually no longer bought newspapers.

    While this may be true for newspapers, I don’t believe it holds for books. Some people tend to argue that printed books are still pretty much alive and kicking, due to several advantages over their digital counterparts (that being mostly the lack of crappy DRM schemes).

    Plus, hipsters might at some point become attracted to print — “I was reading printed books before it was cool” or similar stuff pops into my mind.

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