I’m glued to my computers about 10 hours a day. 12 or 14 on a crazy day. We have six web-enabled devices at home (if you count the iPhone). Six. It’s absurd.
As my friends and family will testify, I rail all too frequently against the encroachment of technology into our lives. Seriously, don’t get me started. But I’m just as guilty as everyone else, and I get distracted by the thirst for information just as often, and I lean on the Internet for my very livelihood. So I can’t pretend that I’m above it all. But with all my concessions to modern gadgetry, there’s one digital leap I just can’t take.
The thing is, I love my magazines. Printed, touchable, foldable, real, crisp paper. There’s something about the experience of cracking open a new issue of my favorite mag, unplugging and kicking back on the couch to soak it in. And as a bonus, my magazine can’t check my email, tweet or send me Facebook alerts, so I can truly enjoy it in a moment of leisure, without distraction.
I have a theory (or maybe it’s just an uncanny grasp of the obvious) that much of corporate America today makes its money by putting gadgets between people. And the main benefit to individuals, among others, has been convenience — easy access. To just about everyone and everything. Every morsel of knowledge and opinion out there. Everyone in your life, regardless of distance. But for me, that convenience often comes at a price and causes something real and tangible to be lost in the transfer of ideas.
Such is modern society, right? Convenience trumps just about everything. And when it comes to mags, given the pace at which Kindles, Nooks and iPads are selling, obviously millions and millions of people would disagree with me. And normally, after months of resisting the latest fad, I would eventually just give in and jump on board.
But I look at magazines a little differently from most other media. After all, weren’t magazines pretty much designed to be convenient in the first place? They’re light. They’re small. The ink won’t rub off all over your hands (I’m looking at you, newspapers). They smell nice (some even come with a hint of perfume, for crying out loud). What’s not to like? And more than anything, print magazines were designed to be easy to read, in a way that no eReader, IMHO, could ever approach. Magazines are meant to be read full size (and for the designers among us, in spread format). And while the iPad may be all the rage and a testament to gorgeous industrial design, it just doesn’t reproduce or rival the reading experience of the printed piece. Is it convenient? Sure. Is it as gratifying? Methinks not.
Apparently, despite the surge toward e-everything, Americans love the printed page as well. As noted in the official press release for the “Magazines: The Power of Print” campaign launched last year, “Magazine readership has risen 4.3% over the past five years (Source: MRI Fall 2009, Fall 2005 data),” despite the burgeoning of viral online content like double-rainbow guy. Also, according to the release, “During the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership increased 11% (Source: MRI Fall 2009 data).” With all the other choices out there, it seems a great deal of us still love our print mags.
So while I’ll concede that 21st-century technology obviously plays an invaluable and dominant role in modern culture, magazines are the one little bit of turf I’m not willing to give up, the one medium I’m not surrendering to the clutches of the web — and the iPad is strictly machina non grata where my mags are concerned.
Love printed mags? Find ’em sooooo 20th century? I’ll be here hovering over one of my six gadgets awaiting your feedback.