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Magazines: Printed vs Digital

The Tail As Old As Time – Which Future Is Expecting Printed Magazines and Why Digital Might Not Last Forever

My first acquaintance with glossy magazine began took place when I was around 7-year-old. I still remember that Cosmopolitan issue starring Brittany Murphy on the cover, which I was examining infinitely along with a Marie Claire issue, left by my mother and successfully forgotten. Then, a little girl, who passionately adored reading and reread all children books displaced at home (yes, my granny taught me to read at my early age), admired to look at delightful pictures from fashion shows, dazzling photoshoots, beautiful models – so skinny, that my granny would definitely want me to feed up even more in order not to make me look like them. I wasn’t even ashamed by adult text aren’t destined for children’s interest, which I found out from how to get ready, when your man is about to come over in five minutes, how to diversify your sexual life (then I didn’t really understand what a banana was used for and why exactly banana), and what Saint-Tropez is, where everybody always wanted to spend their holidays and weekends. I still remember how much I spat from the submitted list of «Top-100 of the best summer season bags», regarding it «ugly» (I would definitely would be torn apart for such definition within fashion circle), and I didn’t even care that there was a list of Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Gucci, and many other brands which I would sell my soul for nowadays – my scarlet velvet bag from a local market with glitter stars seemed for me the prettiest thing ever.

The time was passing by, gradually, in replacement of teenage magazines about celebrity and Russian analogues of Teen Vogue, a taste for «high-end» zines appeared. I was already 14-year-old, and I massively bought issues of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, L’Officiel, read very attentively, with delight and huge interest, articles about fashion, trends, culture and brands, dreaming about flying to different spa resorts and European cities, wearing this mesmerising yet unattainable garments, and seeing my article being published on pages of my favourite magazines. I brought a bunch of issues of the beloved glossy zines from my trips to other countries, godlessly spending my parents’ money and not taking care about them being written in another language – I spoke English perfectly, meanwhile, the fashion language is clear both in Turkish and in German. By the end of high school, my bookshelves were already bursting with a countless amount of magazines, carefully collected throughout several years. And how many tears have been shed, when my mom forced to throw them away in order to finally free up space and clean the room from «junk». The last word hurt my heart the most.

When the internet entered our lives, the need for periodicals gradually began to disappear. I watch this tendency not only globally, but on my own example. What is the reason for me to wait the whole month in order to to get to know the latest trends from runways, when I can go surfing the Internet and know about them the day later Fashion Weeks have passed? Why should I endure for a long time to my favourite journalist article to be released, when I may just click the link and read all his works at once for the whole year ahead? Should I really spend extra five euros on another issue, when irritating advertising prolonged for fifty pages straight already repeals all desire to flip a magazine further and reach the very essence and desired articles?

The world that is already satiated by lots of daily information, when changes happen every day, even when you’re fully asleep and doesn’t have a clue about it yet, when it’s needed to keep abreast and be flexible to every little transformation – expecting a brand-new issues of the magazine is already a frank crime. It seems, you throw yourself a few steps back, turning into a sloth from the worldwide famous animation movie «Zootopia», whose reaction may compete with the snail’s one as feedback to what is happening around the world.

A major part of printed magazines, no matter how sad it would sound for them, have already begun to adapt to the reality of the end of the second decade, little by little losing not only grip, but also love and loyalty of their readers. A transition into a new dimension – into virtual reality – is a long process, yet necessary, especially for giants like Condé Nast and Hearst; otherwise, attempts to survive in a competitive environment of the progressive and promising online platforms will become much harder. New-comers, who are taking over digital space, now offer readers a more exciting user experience, implying not only articles reading and constantly changing trends monitoring, but full immersion into a different reality, entertaining interface and ability to interact with a platform in a more personalised level.

Fashion magazines become a collectable.

Moreover, even advertisement implementation within a website becomes much more acceptable – unlike paper, magazine spreads occupying the lion’s share of the whole issue and worthing a fortune (an average price of the page in Vogue start from $150,000), native advertising is much in demand among most brands. It’s unobtrusive, with proper use you may not even notice that instead of reading a decent, breathtaking article you’ve just read an ad unit. Besides, there are much fewer ad banners flashing out around the site pages, or there aren’t at all, that gives extra points to an online-zine in the eyes of the potential audience.

In late March, Cindé Nast announced a relaunch of the renewed Vogue Greece – an action is quite controversial and even ridiculous: in the country experiencing a financial crisis, relaunching a brand-new version of the famous magazine that turned into an outspoken mass-market in a segment of the fashion publications, becomes a crazy adventure, and, is not a fact, it will be paid back. Yes, fashion was always interesting – in the modern world, when the definition of war and hunger are known only thanks to history books (without mentioning some countries), when there are lots of stores and brands in disposal, from mass-market to luxury ones, everyone wants to look pretty and be in-the-know of the latest trends. But bringing back to life a magazine which was dead in 2012 because of the financial crisis, when people are more worried about their work and how to earn a decent salary to survive – spending a state economy on such «blessing» is a squandering. However, as Vogue Greece editor-in-chief, Thaleia Karafyllidou, stated, the magazine will be mostly digital-oriented – and it’s curious to see what it will come to.

Though they already managed to hit from the very first issue – covers and a photoshoot starring Bella Hadid turned out to be a work of art.

Fashion magazines – read, mass-market – become a collectable. An alluring cover which draws the attention of the passing by the newsstand fashionista holding an iPad with a Business of Fashion open page may take a worthy place on a bookshelf or on a coffee table. But, let’s face it, the content hidden behind this cover will never be read.

Certainly, not everyone who is somehow interested in fashion is totally switched towards virtual space. Condé Nast and Hearst brainchildren, at least, the major part of them which were already mention earlier, always seemed a certain kind of status – a symbol of successful mature woman, which is capable to provide herself both with that diamond necklace from a fashion photo story, and fly to Seychelles, where a new boutique-hotel was recently opened and written about by a travel-editor just back from there. This category of women not only keep issues of her favourite magazines on the coffee table on the living room but also liked to flip through pages from start to finish, taking a bubble bathing front of the panoramic windows of her apartment with a glass of Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc. And exactly for them, such indifferent to the online realm, bee-editors work hard in a spacious editorial office, writing about jewellery exhibition in Geneva, whose report was possible to watch on Instagram the same day of its opening.

So, what’s happening to press for those who walk on a par with progress and wants to be ahead of the rest? Do printed magazines are about to sink into oblivion soon giving the reins to online-platforms?

Perhaps, many lovers of paper books and magazines will get me: this such an incomparable feeling, when you hold a new issue, touch it, feel the paper quality, swipe your fingers through pages, and then smell it, burying your nose in the spine and thinking there is no scent better than a scent of just bought printed copy.

And there is a real pleasure – moral rather than physical – when this is a high-quality, thick magazine with a successful symbiosis of fashion and contemporary culture, such as i-D, Gentlewoman, Pop, AnOther, Fantastic Man, Purple Fashion, Arena Homme Plus. This kind of publications is usually defined as a niche and go beyond usual glossy zines, where commerce is at the head of the idea. It releases once in two months, twice a year, once in a season; you buy it as an object – desirable, as a source of inspiration, like a breath of fresh air – and keep it because it’s not just a magazine about fashion and trends. It’s a pleasure to hold in hands: unlike mainstream magazines printing its material on a thing glossy paper, niche segment uses a high-quality matte one; they do it in response to a deterioration in the quality of oar in a mass-market segment after 2008 crisis. Let’s admit, it’s pleasantly to wake up in the weekend morning, pour a cup with coffee, and open a magazine created by professionals not in hurry, in attempts to meet the deadline in one month; and spend time with no smartphone or tablet on scrolling newsfeed on Twitter, but flipping through pages that are so good to touch.

A casual morning transforms into a special occasion, not just a fleeting moment when you just bought Glamour, read and throw away in the airport. Nowadays, when constant turmoil and a rapid pace of life don’t allow to breath easy, such kinds of the moment become priceless.

Before in the ‘90s and ‘00s, glamour and luxury were in favour even by a little kid, independent magazines were out of the consumer demand – it went beyond the conventional, too contrasted with affluence and shine of the Western publications dictating their own rules of the game – positive, conflict-free and faceless. Now, during the crisis of the paper press, it’s even funny to remember those days and curious to watch how much space the issues occupy, which were regarded as «weird» before now.

Fashion brands, dipped into a new format and adapting to a social mood, their audience habits and the latest trends, are desperately in need of the fresh eye at their product, and also in those who create for them an original, high-quality and not less selling content. Creative, in special cases truly genius minds are willing to gift innovative, dazzling and out of standard ideas that might help the brand to bloom and its own story in a brand-new different way. The struggle is, a vision of some creative minds distinguishes so much from a regular brands philosophy, that leads to executives being able to get out of their comfort zone and make decisions to revision a company’s creative direction.

When we look for breaking news – the internet is our main salvation, but if we want to deep into a leisurely reading – there is a straight way towards newsstand.

By the way, companies – advertisers at the same time – love independent publications, but it doesn’t mean they are ready to contribute with each. Serious project is those which primarily draw the attention of brands, and whose ideas, sometimes revolutionary ones, are worth to splurge all the advertising budget on (which is, by the way, is cheaper than the mass-market one). Some niche magazines remain niche because no one even pays attention to them and doesn’t read – it’s getting clear not all of them are desirable art-objects: there are bad niche zines, there are good ones. Very good. So, the major support is directed to them as much as trust – as a new voice of a generation.

However, we cannot completely give up on printed magazine (on mainstream neither) and discuss their end trusting in the almighty internet and its never-ending potential. When television appeared for the first time in the middle of the last century discovering a whole new world and possibilities, most people considered theatre and cinema have come to an end. In present days watching TV has become a mauveton, meanwhile a phrase «I don’t watch TV» immediately takes a person on a level higher in the eyes of others and adds him several extra points to his intellectual abilities. We continue to go to the cinema, visit theatres (for some people it becomes a special occasion), read regular books, no matter we have it all this kind of entertainment inside our smartphones, tablets and laptops. Vinyl still exists, but we listen to Spotify; e-books fit in almost every bag, but the paper ones are more valuable and smell stunning; travelling around the world we might allow ourselves to discover Florence streets by Segway, though, there is no more pleasure to walk all this distance on your own two.

Even newspapers still proceed to issue in the West by huge editions. Just take a look at Frankfurter Allgemeine or Times, get terrified by these thick daily issues of more than hundred pages that cost kind of a lot – 3-4 euros per issue. When we look for breaking news – the internet is our main salvation, but if we want to deep into a leisurely reading – there is a straight way towards newsstand. And looking at old men of a venerable appearance sitting at the cafe terrace and peacefully reading a fresh newspaper, you suddenly want to forget about universal scale problems, sit next to someone of them and peek over his shoulder on the black and white pages.

«There is a meaningful quality issue arises in the digital space. When everybody gets tired of a number of mediocre content – a severe fight will begin,» says Alena Doletskaya, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Russia. «A new content is highly demanded – new freshness, new format, new angle. The content quality is the only thing what media actually need to orient on.»

When an endless stream of information, striking from every iron, this unceasing noise pisses us off – tired of the constant rush of new and unexplored, when a content found on the internet doesn’t seem original and useful again, we will want to go back to basics again. To newsstands, where lovely old ladies already got bored with «nothing to do», to the newspaper, whose fresh ink always leaves prints on fingers, to news, carefully selected and really worth to be read and analysed. And to life, which is slower and more conscious, without notification vibrations in the pocket about new posts from Facebook.

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