Unless you live on a secret island that moves its location in space and time frequently, you’ve probably heard of the Apple iPad. Big screen, small price, going to save the world etc etc. It will even, supposedly, save the publishing world from extinction. Magazines and books will have a new lease on life, now that they can be all digital and stuff. No more small screens, only wide vistas to view beautiful…
…low-resolution images. Uh oh, we’re not there yet.
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While this might seem counter-intuitive at first, magazines actually have a technical edge over computer monitors, iPads and all those other devices when it comes to viewing images. (And since I’m in the business of making images, that’s important to me!)
Think about the benefits of the ‘lowly’ printed magazine for a minute:
• Very large, high resolution images are possible. The Italian issue of Vogue is sized at 8.25″ x 11″. With a print resolution equivalent of 300 dpi, that’s roughly 2400 x 3300 pixels. Compare that to the iPad at 768 x 1024. And when you go for the larger format magazines, it’s even greater. Your computer monitor might have a little more…the one I’m typing on right now is 1024 x 1280. Still nowhere near the detail. If you want big, gorgeous, extremely detailed images, magazines will be your best bet for a long time to come.
• They’re cheap! National Geographic’s cover price is $4.95. The iPad starts at $600. And then you still have to buy the magazines to put in it.
• They’re disposable. If you leave your copy of Maxim on the train, you won’t cry. If you leave your digital copy of Maxim (and the rest of your music, movie and reading library) on the train, you will certainly cry.
• They’re portable and flexible. Oh sure, an iPad is portable to a degree, and a laptop less so. But a magazine you can tuck under your arm. You can swat bugs with it. You can rip pages out and put them on your wall. You can put it over your face to shade the sun, when you’d rather just take a nap than keep reading.
• They’re recyclable. And you can just throw them in an ordinary recycling bin, rather than having to take it to a special HazMat center.
The magazine industry is in the dumps right now, and I think that’s partly because they haven’t figured out how to work the advertising revenue stream properly, in the internet age. But from a consumer point of view, magazines have a lot going for them. And I think the magazine titles that rely on beautiful images, and/or stories with longevity have a real chance of surviving. Let’s hope so, because I don’t want to take out a loan to feed my reading habit.
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