The world didn’t really need another piece of evidence to show that most folks like to get their information about technology online, but it got one today anyhow: Publisher Ziff Davis is ceasing print distribution of PC Magazine, the dominant computing publication for much of its 26-year existence. The issue with a January cover date will be the last one printed on dead trees, a victim of declining ad sales and increasing costs for paper and postage.
PCMag.com will live on and has a good chance of doing well for a long time. And in an interesting twist, Ziff will continue the Zinio version of PC Mag–a digital version that has the look and feel of the print edition, but which is available only in digital form. (I wish ‘em luck with that experiment, but I suspect that this is an intermediate stage in the life of PC Mag, and it’ll go Web-only sooner rather than later.)
It’s impossible for me to contemplate this news in the absence of the fact that I spent almost fourteen years at PC Magazine‘s principal print and online rival, PC World. (Where I’m no longer an insider, but I wouldn’t be stunned if PC World existed in print even after PC Mag ceases Zinio distribution as well.) In the media world, it isn’t exactly fashionable to say you like print publishing, but here goes: As much as I love the Web, I’m a print fan, too. And I’m sorry to see the powerhouse I spent so many years competing with going away in its most famous form.
On the other hand, having spent so many years working on PC World in both print and Web versions, I know that it’s awfully hard to straddle two very different media and do justice to both of them. I suspect that PC Mag editor Lance Ulanoff and his staff are feeling liberated in some ways today–without print deadlines to worry about, they’ll have some opportunities to do some cool new stuff on their site.
I have more to say, but I’m dashing off for a meeting–in the meantime, here’s an article by PC Mag cofounder Cheryl Woodard on the origins of the publication (including its fascinating relationship to the founding of PC World).