It was not the coronavirus pandemic’s fault that publishing houses and newsrooms are closing. Surely, we know that has been happening for the past decade. The slow death of print journalism and publication has been happening for over a decade. It happened ever so slowly but was accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
And now, it stands at the precipice of oblivion. Can publishing houses and the printing press came out of the pandemic alive? Or, like the newsrooms and printed magazines, will it finally succumb to its inevitable end?
It is unfair for the coronavirus pandemic to be the culprit in what it seems to be something the publishing industry has been heading to for the last decade. However, in the past months, the world has seen many magazines and newspapers transform themselves into digital editions. They are no longer going to print newspapers in the old format. Books are being printed less than they were a few years ago. The reality is that the publishing industry is having a hard time coping with the rise of digitalization.
How Are Publishers Coping?
There are many different ways to react to the death of an industry long seen as a tool for education, data gathering, creativity, and entertainment. Some are offering self-publishing services, allowing authors a chance to see their books in print. That children’s story you have in your hard drive can find a home in self-publishing children’s book services. And while the experience isn’t the same as having your stories picked up by famous publishers and editor, the chance to see your stories in a book form and get them to the public is still an experience you should savor.
Aside from the digitalization of news and stories, the publishing industry also had to contend with the threats of the pandemic. As people retreated to their homes, books, magazines, and journals became less accessible to them. They couldn’t troop to the library or the bookstore. All they have are their trusty smartphones and tablets. That opened the gates for more of these readers to turn to eBooks.
In turn, publishers have work to do. At Tribune Publishing, for example, coronavirus stories count toward the readers’ monthly article limits. This allows for more revenue through subscriptions. But in The Wall Street Journal, there’s a section for free coronavirus content and videos. These are available to subscribers without limit. It means content about the coronavirus won’t count toward their monthly article limit.
But for the Journal, this is more of a service, a part of their responsibility to spread the news farther and wider. In fact, the newspaper has been encouraging their readers to share the link with their families and friends. They want to spread the news as much as they can.
The New York Times used a different strategy. To get information about its readers and visitors, they still require them to register to read their coronavirus updates. Their coverage of the pandemic, however, will not count against their allowed monthly articles.
What Role Did Ads Play in the Demise of Publishing?
It’s not only the pandemic’s and the digitalization’s fault that publications are basically in their own version of purgatory. Advertising agencies started prioritizing ads on social media and the internet. This meant that the biggest chunk of a revenue generator for newspapers, books, and magazines are all but gone. The loss of ads has impacted the publishing industry. To survive, many of their employees and CEOs are taking pay cuts.
How are They Transforming and Transitioning to Digital?
Like many industries, publication houses need to transform to what the 21st century demands from them. Those that are still publishing newspapers and magazines are using this opportunity to sell their digital editions to subscribers. They are pushing them to start subscribing to their digital formats as they prepare for a complete transition to it.
Many are offering discounted rates and free trials. Subscribers of their printed edition are also getting versions of the newspapers on their iPads. It is a whole new world for these publishers. They are trying to steer their ships in this age of hyper-digitalization and better-informed audience.
Publications, of course, will not back down easily. While the demands of the times have changed, it doesn’t mean a complete obliteration of what print media stood for. The need to transform is here. Publishers need to remain relevant to their readers. And whether the readers like it or not, they are bound to seek these time-tested and experienced titles for valuable data, knowledge, accurate information, and out-of-this-world creativity.