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Print Media and its survival in the Digital World

Come and gone is a normal flow for every business. But while the media business is a very competitive one, then what makes print media survive in the surrounding of digital alternatives?

E-book, E-mail, E-newspaper, E-magazine, E-commerce, E-ticket

Online.. All are gone online.

All e-forms mentioned above are just the beginning of the “E-Age” and I guess many more are going to come into existence in 2015 and later on. Nowadays you can read on the phone, do business on screen (bye for now paper) and have conversations instead of writing letters. Of course, I couldn’t agree more that these technologies are very convenient, much faster and make it easier to catch up in real time than it was in the old fashioned way. Time is money, people! Chup Chup!

But if each and everyone turns online, then where is the place for print? Will there be one at all?

I’ve been working with a travel magazine in Thailand for almost a year now. It’s not that huge but it has some advantages to work for a smaller company, namely  that you have the chance to do and see all the production processes up close. And while I have been spending my time working here, I learned that the situation for magazines is getting worse. The circulation revenue drops. People refrain from buying actual magazines but rather read content on websites or choose to catch up on things via social media instead. And so far according to AC Nielsen, a global marketing research company, this is happening with other printing businesses as well. The amount of money that had been spend for advertisement in this kind of media significantly decreased.

print media in thailand

That is now the challenge for all printing businesses. People abandon it. Leaving back only the same old business players and big companies to survive (or are they also left to die soon?). What do they need to do now? How can they survive in the digital age?

No money, no honey

Money is God. Money is everything. Or whatever they say. It is true that we need money to make this business survive. The more income we generate, the more capabilities can be input into content generation of the magazine (in my case) or any other business. Besides the circulation income, another main income is, of course, from advertising. But since the clients have more alternatives to go for, printing becomes their last choice. (FYI: here in Thailand, television is the first rank for advertising with the highest costs)

Then how to shine bright for the clients to buy your work or invest the ads with you? Besides the money, I recently heard about “Content is King” as well. Many printings had already disappeared because of the financial crisis, but many also can’t survive because of the content they have. It might not be interesting enough. It might not be able to satisfy or attract the target readers enough.

So it comes down to the point, “What is called good content?” Well, one thing I could say about Thailand is that we’re not such good readers here , so what would attract us to keep reading must be something I might define as “soft content”; hilarious, entertaining, literature-documentary with colorful style of writing. This sounds a bit too much I know, but sorry to say that it’s the truth for mass readers here in general.

If you can’t beat them.. 

The popularity on online media keeps increasing every single day, we all know that well and, of course, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel how to beat it. So it’s time to pick up all the strategies you have in your head to tackle the downward spiral of the business. Ladies and gentlemen, I offer you..the solution: Join them!

First of all, I would like to show one example here and Kodak is an all-time great example in this case. As the very first company known for its pioneering technology and advanced marketing founded in 1880, Kodak was regularly rated one of the world’s five most valuable brands accounted for 90% of film and 85% of camera sales in America.

Time passed and digital photography stepped in to replace the film, and smartphones to replace cameras. Kodak’s revenue peaked at nearly $16 billion in 1996 and its profits at 2.5 billion in 1999, followed by the falling of its share price by nearly 90% and ended up with bankruptcy. One of the reasons according to Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harward Business School, the one who has advised the firm, said that Kodak was slow to change because its executives “suffered from mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it.” (More information on The Last Kodak Moment: www.economist.com/node/21542796)

digital vs print thailand

You might already know all above but why I’m sharing this story of Kodak’s collapse with you now? It can be clearly seen that printing media would not be any different from this case if they won’t adapt themselves. Many publishing companies around the world, including Thailand, have already changed the platform of their business to an online base, such as from hard-copy magazine to e-magazine, actual book to e-book, or e-newspaper.

This doesn’t even count in the applications that those publishers are developing on devices in order to support the demand of the consumers, allowing them to get to the content or other services much easier.

I deeply believe that the printing media will never fade away. The point is how much publishers can adapt themselves in order to survive in this business. If they do not adapt, one day in the future, if no one would really care, in the worst case, printing would just become a valuable souvenir for us all to collect and for next generations to admire.

Niti

Niti is a former exchange student of AFS Intercultural Program in Czech Republic in 2004. She's now persuing her master's degree in Mass Communication Administration at Thammasat University and particularly interested in media scenes and journalism.

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