It’s Alive: The Survival of Print in a Digital Age

It’s alive!

That’s what I learned on a recent tour of Lane Press. Print still has a pulse!

Take that Kindle, Nook, Skiff, and all the rest. You know who you are.

Magazines have a special place in my heart. As I’ve watched technology pound them like a tsunami, washing hard-earned careers away with it, I’ve been concerned.

Touring Lane Press with other UMW University Relations team members.

Touring Lane Press with other UMW University Relations team members.

A wise editor told me years ago not to worry, there will always be a place for print media. As I’ve sat self-consciously flipping pages at doctors’ offices, airports, and pools – everyone else silently poking away at their iPhones and laptops and tablets – I’ve had my doubts.

So, I couldn’t have been happier this summer, standing inside the bustling South Burlington, Vt., printing company that churns out more than 100,000 copies of University of Mary Washington Magazine a year, along with hundreds of other publications.

As our guide whisked the rest of the group through the plant, babbling about binding and batches and gutters and leading, I stood very still.

I wanted to soak it all in – the metallic scent of ink in the air; the huge rounds of paper that look more like steamroller wheels; the whirr of Lane’s giant presses, printing page after beautiful page.

I took a deep breath and … finally … let myself believe.

Years from now, maybe I will still find those glossy surprises inside my mailbox each month. Maybe I will still save my place not by clicking a mouse but by folding a corner of an actual page in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Vogue, House Beautiful, Us, and all of my favorites.

Maybe – just maybe – print will survive.

Six reasons I like reading magazines in print rather than online:

  1. No pop-up ads to dodge.
  2. No power packs, batteries, outlets, or charge needed.
  3. No worries about breaking an expensive machine.
  4. You can touch – and sometimes smell (think perfume inserts) – them.
  5. No pressure to comment on – or “Like” – the material immediately.
  6. They’re fun to look at while waiting in line at the grocery store.

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