Sunday, August 10, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak out: Kindle, News and Magazines

BoSacks Readers Speak out: Kindle, News and Magazines

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

"He says that paper's immutability means that: "The book you place on your nightstand as you drift off to sleep will be exactly the same book when you wake up in the morning." This comforts us. . . . "Every fifth book that my eyes wander over is not yet read. It is waiting for me to pick it up. Some would think this a terrible waste, but I take comfort in having books at the ready."

OK- perhaps the Kindle is not the perfection of the electronic read. But articles like this make me despair. I confess. I have thousands of books at my home. But I also now have a Kindle.
I look at the copy of the most recent War and Peace translation I purchased last year, and wish I had it on my Kindle instead- I might actually lift it up to read! (but perhaps not the book- although my chiropractor wishes I would!)

These "odes" to print are sounding more and more elitist and detached. Are we to say that those millions of people who can't afford a personal library are somehow diminished irrevocably? Those unfortunates who patronize libraries- where books are shared, not owned?

Come on- can we please get back to the content! Reading trash (not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your thing) is reading trash, whether it's from dead trees on your nightstand, or anonymously bound into the black "faux-leather" Kindle cover, or on a computer monitor or blackberry. Get people reading, whatever the medium. Help these readers become critical readers. Make people want more, not less, well-written and researched content.
Delivery moves on, intelligence has to be nurtured . . . This is what should demand our attention!
Submitted by a Senior Circulator)

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

And why does the author not go back to a horse and buggy? In that way he will not "miss the pleasure" of feeding his conveyance real food in lieu of gasoline. Likewise, I would guess he wrote this piece using a computer. What's wrong with "the weight" of a typewriter? Does he bemoan the lack of a ribbon and ink and retyping an entire page simply because one word is incorrect? Come on. . . . there may (or may not) be many reasons not to want a Kindle, but his just seem specious!
Submitted by a Publishing CFO)

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

Bo,I love your newsletter and I also love my Kindle.
It doesn't replace reading books, it supplements them; just the way you often describe online reading supplementing newspapers and magazines. When I have an interest in a subject, I can download sample chapters of several books from that niche for free. Then I can download the entire book I perceive as the most valuable immediately, most of the time for only $9.99.

O.K., reading the kindle is not the same experience as reading the physical book, but there are many advantages I haven't discussed that make it a great informational tool, and it is now in my briefcase daily right next to my laptop computer.
(Submitted by an Unknown )

Re: In my book, the Kindle is not a kindred spirit

Bo: This guy needs to open his mind a little. Not one word of The Great Gatsby, or A Tale of Two Cities, or War and Peace will be different on a Kindle. I thought it was all about the words. Substance, not form. I'm getting my Kindle on Friday. I am looking forward to it for many reasons.

First, of all, it's something new. I'm proud of my middle-aged self for being willing to try it. From what I read, it does all the things that I do when I read books . . . write in margins, look up words in dictionary, etc.
Secondly, as an apartment dweller, I am always forced to get rid of books every so often, for simple lack of shelf space. The Kindle is perfect for that. I can archive a cyberspace library of books that I bought, without their having to be there. If I want to re-read Moby Dick ten years from now, I can, since it's mine already. The paperback Penguin Classics don't turn brown! Need I continue?
I'll let you know how I like it after I play around for a while.
(Submitted by a Senior Director of Manufacturing and former Co-Worker with BoSacks)

RE: I Read the News Today . . . Oh Boy

Eric Alterman is right to be concerned about the role of news and the future of our democracy, but he's got only part of the story. And Vartan Gregorian's "Idea" has been tried. The NY Times, USA Today and various local papers call it the "college readership program." Mainly it dumps newspapers on campuses and gets to count them as paid. But that's another story.

The other part of the story is in the place where the schools and the press used to meet. Once upon a time, each of the three newsweeklies had education programs where they sold classroom sets of magazines to teachers and supplied vast quantities of supplemental curriculum materials to held said teachers 1) bring current news into classrooms; 2) engage students with civic issues and 3) teach about the role of the press. Once upon a time over 700 newspapers in the U.S. had NIE programs (Newspaper in Education) that did the same thing on a local level. Time pulled out of the market three years ago. US News followed a year later. Newsweek folded its 50-year old education program in June. Many newspapers see NIE programs as luxuries they can't afford.

Granted, for the magazines and the newspapers, the programs were designed to boost circulation or support the rate base. But they did something else, too, which is get newspapers and news into kid's HANDS (literally) and helped further the cause of civic education in ways large and small by engaging kids with real issues.

It's now harder every day for teachers to do that. Yes, there are a couple of great online programs (NY Times Learning Network and Newshour Extra), but - and here's the other economically driven rub - civic engagement just isn't on the radar screen when it comes to what we expect of schools these days. That might surprise you, because most literate people have heard something somewhere about the connection between education and democracy, and they probably remember that the main reason for having public schools in this country in the first place was to produce an educated citizenry. No more. Today the sole purpose of education is preparing workers for the global economy. Look closely at No Child Left Behind, dozens of school reform movements or either of the presidential candidates' platforms and you'll have a hard time finding even a reference to social studies, news or civic education. In elementary schools, social studies has been essentially eliminated in favor of reading and math, and I've met many high school history and civics teachers who have been told that "all teachers are reading teachers" these days.

I'd like to think that all teachers are civics teachers, but I'm an old curmudgeon.

So there are two engines of democracy in trouble. Everyone is talking about the press, but no one seems to be talking about the schools in that light.

Re: The Production Traffic Cop

Bob - this article by Bob Wiemers is EXCELLENT. What a thorough, fair and balanced piece on the state of closing a magazine today. Every magazine, ad agency and client should be forced to read and comprehend the excellent points covered here. I have sent this to my clients for a thorough understanding of why, after 30 years, I am still a Traffic Cop above all else!!
(Submitted by a Senior industry Consultant)

Re: The Production Traffic Cop

"If we change this page on Friday, we'll have to track down all the trucks, buy some more paper, and print the whole thing again-but yes, it can be done."
Bob Wiemers

This story really hit home with me and I just had to share this "real life" experience with you. And yes, Bob Wiemers is correct, it can always be done . . .

I had scheduled my Aunt's move from her second floor, walk-up apartment in the city to a retirement community in the suburbs. One of our monthlies had gone to the Printer 8 days ago so I felt "safe" scheduling her move for this week. After all, the publication would be loaded on trucks today and put in the mail. What could possibly go wrong?

It was a scorching hot day in Chicago, the movers were packing in a flurry, and my Aunt was shuffling around on her walker saying. Wait, I want to look through those books before you pack them. Too late, into the box they went. My cell phone rings. It's my boss. I walk down to the landing between the first and second floors for better reception and she says:

We need to pull the story on page 3 of the issue.
Which issue?
The June issue.
But, we can't," I say. It's mailing today.
No they're not mailing it, she said. I called them and said not to mail it.
But it's printed already. It's too late.

Well isn't there someway that they can just tear out page 3 and put a new one in? (Now, this is my fault because I had done a "rip-and tip" on a book at our Annual Meeting when someone discovered the wrong author name on a Section Opener page. So I got out my glue stick, an exacto and a ruler, cut out the old page, and glued in a new one.)
No, there's no way that can be done. It's saddle stitched. And besides, it's 25,000 copies!
So if we need to pull that story, we'll have to reprint the entire issue?
Yes, that's right, I say. The entire issue will have to be printed again.
How much will that cost?

It will cost the same as if we printed a regular issue.
Well, we'll have to do that then. Find out how soon they can do it. Tell the Printer we need this done ASAP!
Can I ask what the problem is with the story? Why does it have to be pulled? Did we misspell our CEO's name again?

No, we got right this time, but the author's corrections for the story on page 3 did not get back in time. The author is furious! Since he is on the board we have to pull this story. We have no choice.
I don't understand . . . why didn't the writer call the author and say we're going to press, we need the changes today or we can't print the story?

Well he tried but the author never called him back.
And he couldn't have called him again? Don't we have rules about not publishing a story without the author's changes? What's the procedure for this?

You're right, this should have never happened. I know we have issues with this whole process.
But this always happens, I said. Editorial has ALL the time in the world to write this stuff. They have spell check, cycles and cycles of proofreading, and they still don't get it right! So now, when they screw things up, and we don't catch it before it's printed, we're gonna start pulling issues off the truck!

No, we are not making a habit of this. I have an idea, why don't you give this some thought and see what you can come up with.

Me? Give it some thought? I don't even need to think about it! It's real simple.
Number 1: Editorial must establish a process for writing and finalizing copy.
Number 2: Editorial must create an editorial schedule and meet every date on it.
Number 3: Editorial needs to understand that Production cannot fix everything.
Then I hear a crash from upstairs. I hear my Aunt yell, Mary! You'd better get up here.
(Submitted by a Senior Production Manager)

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