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Why print will never die

Words by Hannah Cole

Illustration by Tywlamae

Long live print.

When we talk about print media these days, it’s generally clouded with a doomsday-like air. “Print is dead,” holler the newsboys (who have since traded their sidewalk stoops for a laptop-facing chair). My previous life, working in a media agency, taught me that yes, the numbers show a decline in readership and circulation (*buzz words*). But will print – whether it be magazines or books – ever truly die? IMHO, never.

Illustration #1: Me

During this previous work life, teammates jostled and joked that I was single-handedly keeping the print industry alive. It’s a badge of honour I proudly tout as I lug printed material with me on every journey. My bank account groans, but my eyes swell with greed as I eye off the latest issues within each newsagency I pass. I update Magnation’s website with fervour as I await international arrivals. Some stock up on trophies or antique spoons or succulents; I hoard magazines.

Illustration #2: James Hyman

While I am but one, there are others also competing for “biggest mag fan.” James Hyman is currently winning the race as the holder of the Guinness world record for the ‘largest collection of magazines in the world.” With a collection amassing over 100,000 issues, he is now converting the quality photography and journalism to be made available online via a subscription service. As he eloquently stated for System, “Magazines are experiencing a sustained renaissance as readers once again appreciate the pleasure of paper and the physical object.” All hope is not lost: the physical may just trump the digital.

Illustration #3: Vince Aletti

Vince Aletti comes in at second place as the proud owner of “at least ten thousand” print issues. What better way to prove that print is not dead than to compile your very own book. Published by Phaidon, ‘Issues’ collates iconic photography and stories from magazines published over the decades. Aletti celebrates the art form and the beauty that has come from it, featuring the likes of Richard Avedon and Nick Knight.

I know we aren’t the only ones out there. So, what is print good for? Absolutely everything (debatably).

For me, it’s the ultimate tool to unplugging and checking out. I’m part of the machine in the daily grind – clogging inboxes, racking up tabs and rarely taking my eyes off the screen. After a day online, there’s something primal in picking up a physical wad of paper and immersing oneself in another offline world. It’s a reminder of the simple life, and the nostalgia calls me home.

It’s also near-impossible to multitask while reading; I physically cannot do anything else. Sipping a tea, munching on snacks or tanning is about as far as it goes. As we know, multitasking may gradually be frying our collective brains along with our concentration levels. There’s a reason why I struggle with online longreads – often hesitating to start in the first place after seeing how many scrolls are required. Something magical happens when I open a magazine, though. Give me a ten-page piece, even twenty, and I’ll get through it (albeit gradually). And I can highlight or bookmark to my heart’s content. The science has spoken. 

Just yesterday, I felt the unwelcome pangs of anxiety. Instead of turning to lavender oil (my drug of choice), I brought the book I was reading a little closer. I stuck my nose right into its middle and breathed deeply. It worked; my heartbeat slowed, and my thoughts became more rational. For that reason alone, in the name of self-care, print has to survive. Join the crusade – #LongLivePrint.

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