They say the magazine and newspaper industries are dying.
In a day and age when literacy is unprecedented and people are consuming information in greater quantities than ever before, how can that be?
One of my neighbors happens to be a precocious first grader.
Well, when we first met he was a precocious pre-schooler. He's the sort of guy who will be tearing through the neighborhood chasing one of the other neighborhood kids is some game or other, notice you getting out of your car, stop dead in his tracks, and as formally as you please say, "Hello Kos. How was your day?" And damn it all, he's actually interested in how your day was and what you've been up to and any plans you may have for the evening. When the (usually lengthy) conversation starts to wind down, he'll excuse himself with a polite "Nice talking to you" and tear off after the kid/s he was previously involved with.
In short, this kid cracks me up.
So I was completely defenseless last September (2011) when my little neighbor showed up at the door selling magazines as part of a school fundraiser. I haven't subscribed to any magazine in 10 years at least. And the prices in the brochure were easily double what you'd pay subscribing through normal channels.
His sales pitch was flawless: "Hello Kos. I'm selling magazines for school. [Hands me flyer.] You pick your magazines from here. [Shows me form on a clipboard and points.] You write you name and address here and mark what magazines you want over here. You make the check out to Ourhometown Elementary and I put it in this envelope." There was no question as to whether I'd be buying. As far as he was concerned it was all about me picking which magazines I wanted.
So my wife entertained the little dude as I searched for the checkbook. (Something I haven't used in at least 9 months as I do all my banking online). I manage to find the checkbook and wife chooses a couple of magazines while I make out the check. I fill out the form and neighbor dude places the check in the envelope as promised.
This is where 2011 (and 2012) collides with 1970s Americana.
Sure, you expect some delay as the school handles the paperwork and checks. But my wife and I live in the 20teens. Everything happens at the speed of the internet.
As I said, I haven't subscribed to a magazine in 10 years. I would have thought the magazine industry had kept pace with (or lagged slightly behind) our changing world. I would have thought to get the next issue of each of those magazines. Or at worst, the issue after that. Since the magazine business is lagging, they'll be playing their best to get and keep customers. I'd be wrong.
In the 1970s, I'd fill out a little card from inside a magazine asking to subscribe. And in 4 or 5 months, I'd start receiving issues.
In the 20teens I filled out a form and now 5 months later, I've received the first issue of one of the two magazines we ordered.
Really?!? Not even a one month improvement thanks to automation -- in 40 years?
They say the magazine industry is dying. I wonder why.