Internet the Death of Print World?

12 Jun

It’s a valid question. A question that, given the answer, could affect all too many people’s jobs and our history of how we approach reading. I’ve come across this question many times in the past, especially as I’ve worked for both a print newspaper (they had a Web site in its beginning stages) and a kind of directory/magazine that did most of its work online, as they published only four times a year — they had a bi-weekly newsletter sent to its subscribers’ emails. As the internet provides 24/7, infinite access, what does that mean for newspapers that can only, at best, publish news the next morning? (Many newspapers are responding to this by creating Web sites of their own on which stories are published and updated throughout the day.)

In his interview with The Rumpus (a very cool Web site by the way, check it out), novelist Dave Eggers — creator of McSweeney’s, a journal with another, even cooler Web site that’s HILARIOUS… that’s right, hilarious, in caps — provides an optimistic answer that I might just be able to believe. Basically, print will survive, but it’s got to try harder:

Rumpus: So you’re not looking at a post-paper world.

Eggers: My admittedly strange opinion is that we need to try harder with print. We can’t just give up on it. Inevitably there will be some loss of newspaper readership, but even that will stabilize. Not everyone wants all their news online. Do we all want to look at screens from 8am to 10pm? There’s room in the world for both online and paper. It doesn’t have to be zero-sum. I guess that’s one of the things that’s always frustrating to hear, that the rise of the Internet means the death of print. There’s always this zero-sum way of painting any given industry or trend, while the reality will be more nuanced. I think newspapers that adjust a bit will survive and still do great work. But we do need to give people reasons to pay money for the physical object. The landscape right now does require that we in the print world try harder. We have to think of the things that print does best, and do those things better than ever before. We need to use the paper, maximize the physical product.”

The rest of the interview (click here to read) is about his new book Zeitoun, which I can’t wait to read. Also, he’s got a new movie coming out (picture and preview below) called Away We Go, which he co-wrote with his wife Vendela Vida. It looks awesome. Plus it’s directed by Sam Mendes.

Oh, I actually think this movie is officially out. Okay, well… go see it!

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