December 18th, 2010
There I was, eight months ago standing in line at the Apple store on the morning that the iPad was released. Not because I wanted to be the first to own one, but because I didn't want the store running out of them before I went down later that afternoon to pick one up as originally planned. It was (and is now even more) a pretty cool little gizmo. I could jump online, do some emailing and a couple of other fun things, but not at all a necessity. I only wanted one because I had the big idea of replacing my print portfolios with the iPad so that I could show off my photo work anytime anywhere, without having to carry big portfolios with me or constantly re-organizing my prints. That really is a good thing about the iPad.
Eight months ago, the iPad was just kind of a novelty item that only die-hard Apple deciples had to have. It didn't do that much. Now, the tide of the entire print industry is changing because of this one device. Magazines, newspapers and books are all reconfiguring their distribution to include applications for hand-held media displays such as the iPad, Kindle, or Nook. In fact, an entire new industry is being born on the idea of bringing mass amounts of information and images to the public in the palm of their hand, instantly. I could research numbers and facts 'n figures, but it's enough to say that some, if not all, of my favorite publications are now available exclusively for the iPad. They also include really cool extra content such as buttons overlaying the images that when pushed, activate behind-the-scenes video from the photo shoot, or interactive information that can take you to where you can find and purchase the items used in the photos. With all this changing current sending the print media into a frenzy to get their iPad apps developed and available, it looks like it could mean the beginning of the end of actual printed material. Or is it?
The one thing that these hand-held computer monitors cannot and never will be able to reproduce is the beauty of a well-produced print magazine. My attention to this fact was made apparent when I saw the December 2010 issue of British Harper's Bazaar featuring super model Natalia Vodianova on the cover. It is a work of art in it's own right, with not only beautiful photography and styling, but the cover features a thick high-gloss paper stock, gold foil typesetting and a variety of colors and textures that reflect light in a way that a computer screen cannot reproduce. Simply put, it's gorgeous. In fact, many of the ads inside this issue as well as many other fashion magazines I frequent include gorgeous glossy three-page foldouts, smooth color gradients applied to specialty paper and brilliant color renditions to make the ad "pop" off of the page. Great amounts of money are paid by advertisers in fashion magazines to make their ads more like a art pieces in their presentation to the reader, and I for one applaud it. Sometimes holding the magazine in your hands, flipping the pages and feeling the smooth paper, sampling the scents of the included cologne samples, and being able to look closely at the images without pixelation is worth the price of the magazine. It makes going to the local magazine or book store somewhat of an anticipated adventure to discover what ads and editorials are going to be featured and how they look. This is especially true with large-size magazines like V, Interview, W and WWD. Those are even more fun sometimes because you can clip out the pictures and it's like having a poster! In fact, I have several folders full of magazine clippings that I want to keep just because they are so beautiful I can't bare to throw them away.
While I can't speak for newspapers and books, (and yes, it does look like the end for those if electronic media takes over in the next few years), I can say that as long as magazine publishers continue to display their products with regard to ascetic presentation, class, and include an inherent value for the product itself, I will continue my patronage. The price of each issue may be a little more expensive, but I think that it's worth it. Some magazines are in fact produced so well, that they are coffee table books in my home. It's just something that an iPad cannot replace. -M