28 , 2000
Today I venture off to the Seybold convention in San Francisco to see how the world of print has fared since my departure earlier this year. I also go to solve the riddle that has vexed print publishers since the days when Cro Magnon man stopped chasing around Tyrannosaurus Rexes all day and started getting into moveable type. The question? Just how many times per month can People Magazine put former movie star Leonardo DiCaprio's face on its covers?
Beyond that, I'll pretty much just hang out and absorb the haut couture that has made San Francisco the 31st or 32nd best city in the world, at least in the minds of San Franciscans. Either that, or I'll just stay in my room all day reading Tiger Beat (or whatever magazines I'm able to pick up on the show floor) because, frankly, since I've become a dot com billionaire, I'm just not all that interested in print anymore.
"Not interested in print, Dave?" you squeak. "But the Mac started the whole desktop publishing revolutionitization process. And you were there!"
That's true. But so few publishers are doing anything interesting in print. Seeing as every single publishing company in the world is owned and operated by investment bankers and MBAs, respectively, and not people involved in publishing, the primary goal of publishing houses has become "trimming the fat."
Well, guess what: Publishing is a fat business. And if you think splurging means putting a UV coat on your 40 pound cover stock, you're one of those designers or editors slaving away for people who refer to your magazine as a widget and spend all their time worrying about synergizing their proactive paradigms instead of investing in their core competencies (those being magazines). Publishing companies have spent so much time trying to make themselves attractive to Wall Street that they've lost any clue they ever had as to what publishing is.
I can't slight every publication. Some are doing great things impossible to duplicate on the Webdie cuts, overlays, etc. But these are magazines positioned as high-end books. Drop below the level of these publications, and you get nothing. Just gray pages with a couple of mug shots scattered around because, presumably, you're supposed to have photos of somethinganythingon a magazine page.
Disgustingly enough, the best print work is being done by advertisers and marketers, not publishers. Collateral. Media kits. Inserts. It all blows away the filler that comes between the adsin design and manufacture. I remember back in the Before Times when I'd have to beg my publisher not to put in a 16-page black and white form. Forget about paper. That argument ended a long time ago. Honestly, most publishers should be paying their advertisers, not the other way around.
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