Couple of things have happened that make me think a substantial shift in the position of print is already happening. Personal Computer World has stopped publishing as hard copy. Printweek has started to Twitter and also published a story about social networks online. So the summer drift is over as I try to make sense of this.
There is a couple of month delay in any case on the cover date but I think the last one was August. As September looms I was finding it hard to locate anything more recent in a newsagent. Sure enough a search on Google finds a story by Guy Kewney in the Register. This was back in June so I am way behind. Apparently the Golden Age was long ago. I did notice they started to repeat reviews of Sinclair and Compaq kit so the audience profile could have been getting older. My Google search also found the Jordan Times with a consideration on whether personal computers face extinction. Jean-Claude Elias concludes this is not the case though mobile devices such as phones are a bit different. Not many people will take a screwdriver to them and plug in a few extra chips. Or buy a print guide on where they went wrong in the attempt. Current devices are part of consumer electronics. Most of the time they just work. So this is part of the reason for declining magazine sales, linked to the fact that most devices have some way to read text. Both trends are getting stronger. It may just be that I personally have studied Personal Computer World for twenty years or so, but the fact this ceases suggests to me that other print publications will also switch online.
Meanwhile Printweek is not only involved in Twitter but prepared to publish an article by Matt Whip that explains what social networks are about. Several examples are reported where print service providers have used online promotion. Quite often stories about an e-book development include some sections on why the book itself will always be better or why some internet technology is unlikely to be widely accepted. In this case the story is uniformly positive and encouraging. There is no reason why Twitter and print cannot coexist. But this story seems to me to mark a new stage in what print journalists are prepared to write about. The idea of print as just one part of communications takes a while to accept. In 2004 the London College of Printing was renamed as the London College of Communications. Many people in print think this was a mistake, including some LCC staff. Next step, continue this blog on Twitter in short sentences, my tag will789gb where gb means the book is going. Note gone, but just a bit shaken at the moment.