Embrace Digital, IMAG Attendees Warned
At event, two views of the next 10 years: one hopeful, one apocalyptic.
BOULDER, ColoradoâSome of the magazine industryâs most independent-minded and resourceful publishers discussed and grappled with a mix of old-fashioned print-publishing blocking and tackling and cutting-edge challenges here this week at the Independent Magazine Advisory Groupâs sixth annual meeting.
In a year when event attendance is off throughout the industry, this one, with a bit more than 100 people, enjoyed its best turnout ever, the Magazine Publishers of Americaâs CEO Nina Link said.
Conference chairman Andy Clurman, COO of Active Interest Media, set the stage in opening remarks, declaring that the event would be a âworry-free zone.â
Unfortunately, the worry-free vibe lasted only a few minutesâuntil the first session, focused on organizing a multimedia company. âDigital is not an option,â panelist Mike Edelhart, CEO of LiveDeal, said. âItâs a historic shift. Change or die. Defending what you know is only going to delay the inevitable. You have to attack your own business because the rising digital generation will.â
âCelebrate In-House Terroristsâ
Edelhart wasnât finished. âYou need to produce and celebrate in-house terrorists,â he said. âRevenue is valuable, but not as valuable as tech advantage or momentum,â he added. âIf you are comfortable, if you feel like you know what youâre doing, you are in imminent danger. This is a moment to seize chaos.â
After a couple of valuable Publishing 101 sessions on cost containment and outsourcing, the conference got a more optimistic perspective on digital change from Bob Sacks, president of Precision Media Group. âThe future is here, itâs just not widely distributed yet,â Sacks said. The challenge with digital media is that publishers have not had time to adjust to new platforms because they keep changing. âIt may not stop,â Sacks said.
Sacks offered six key properties for what a magazine is. Tellingly, none included ink-on-paper.
âThe question,â Sacks said, âis whether we should abandon a 600-year-old formula that weâve perfected? But itâs not about screen versus page. Whatâs really important is the culture of ideas that magazines represent.â
âThere is no known cure for addictive content, regardless of delivery method,â Sacks added. âIf you think predicting the future is difficult, try ignoring it.â