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Thoughts on printed publications

A recent topic over on rmweb got me thinking about the future of the printed magazine, and books.

In recent years more and more attention has been focused on devices like the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle eReader. Ebooks have started to take off in some respects. I can see the appeal of an eReader, and i intend to buy one at some point in the future.

However, that having been said, I do much prefer reading a paper book or magazine to reading off of a computer screen by far. For me a new book this is just been published (say a new Discworld novel by Sir Terry Pratchett) has an appeal and smell that is unique.

I tend to find it rather difficult personally to read vast swathes of text on a screen. There is something about the text blurring a bit and my focusing on it becoming difficult. Maybe this is just a peculiarity with my own eyesight, but as a result I refer the written word in print, and find it easier on my eyes to read.

A printed book or magazine I find also to be good to read in bed before attempting sleep. A computer screen isn’t suitable for this, as the effects on the eyes of the screen have an effect of waking you up, and thus making sleep harder. Theres been study into this I believe.

Whilst an eReader can store 100s, or 1000s of books, they lack some of the magic and presence a physical book gives you I find.

I also often enjoy a long soak in a hot scented bath and read a book or a magazine. I cannot do the same really with my phone, my laptop or,  if I had one, an eReader for fear of dropping it in the bath and either electrocuting myself, or destroying the device. If i dropped a magazine or book printed on paper in the bath, I’d be annoyed, but it is much cheaper to replace such an item. Besides, likely the book or magazine would dry out and be readable as long as I fished it out quickly!

I read a lot of science fiction/fantasy novels, and thus have a large collection of books in my flat. This does cause problems of its own! that of not enough shelves. That is perhaps one of the downsides of a book, or having a large amount of magazines. The storage space needed. Some magazines I throw away/recycle after reading them.

Some magazines I will keep for the useful articles within (this is certainly true of model magazines (both aviation and railway)), but others (such as music and computer magazines) go when I get fed up with them laying about or taking up space. On the other hand I never get rid of books!

There are also series of books, where they’re so big and heavy I find it very difficult to hold comfortably, due to my health problems. A prime example of this is the George R. R. Martin A Game of Thrones series of novels, the hardback editions of which are big and heavy 800-1000 page books.

I can however see the usefulness of an eReader despite the shortcoming above. There are a vast number of books available via the Gutenberg Project free, due to their age making them out of copyright. Many classic sci-fi/fantasy novels come under this and collecting the books for such would take up far too much space. An eReader for such would be ideal for me I feel.

In the case of magazines, I can see them also still having a future (the paper book is not going to go away anytime soon I feel). That future may well be shorter than the humble book perhaps, but the publishers I suspect will need to trial, if not embrace the internet and multi-media technologies and diversify their product. An example of this is Linux Format offering subscribers PDF copies of the back issues as a bonus and a lot of content online, as well as files for projects in the magazine available on their website. Obviously with such a title, it stands to reason that they would embrace technology like this.

Model magazines I feel are liable to be somewhat slower on the uptake of this.

There will always be a market for magazines I think, but for model magazines I foresee that market reducing over time.

In the case of model railway magazines, I presently subscribe to Model Rail, Hornby magazine and British Railway Magazine (took advantage of 3 free issues to give it a try). I may well cut this down to just the one owing to financial constraints and other factors.

I’ve found the rmweb forum an example of what can be achieved with use of a community on the internet. It works well, and provides a lot of friendly help and advice from the members there of. And, best of all, it is free! Would magazine publishers do similar I wonder?

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts on printed publications

  1. Ebook readers using e-ink technology are completely different from computer screens. It’s a non-lit passive display without any blurring. It looks indeed pretty much like real paper.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’ve had a play with a Kindle eReader an yes I agree it is easy to read. They’re not readily available in colour, and some i beleive do have lag issues.

      Until they’re available widely in colour, they’re not really suitable for magazines from a publishing point of view as that loses some of the appeal to some extent.

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