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NY Times Looks at Books and Magazines in Digital Transition

We were struck by the appearance in today’s New York Times of two prominently placed stories about media in transition. Both are well worth reading.

Dave Streitfeld explores the enduring appeal of the traditional book in the digital era.

“Even as the universe of printed matter continues to shrivel, the book — or at least some of its best-known features — is showing remarkable staying power online. The idea is apparently embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind.”

Writing that “efforts to reimagine the core experience of the book have stumbled,” Streitfeld notes that a number of tech startups that have tried to incorporate social networking or multimedia into books have either gone out of business or been forced to change their business model.

David Carr looks at plans to cut New York magazine’s frequency to bi-weekly and what it says about the changing economics of media.

“Along with the closing of the printed Newsweek and the planned spin-off of Time Inc., which includes the weeklies Time and People, the move to bi-weekly publishing represents the end of an era and underscores the dreary economics of print and its diminishing role in a future that’s already here.”

Carr quotes New York’s publisher as saying digital revenues—which have been growing at a rate of 15 % a year–will surpass print advertising revenues in the coming year. Carr adds, “But part of the reason those lines are crossing is that print revenues are plummeting.”