by J. L. Sloss
So, you’re sitting at a lovely restaurant, one that you’ve frequented for years. The ambiance is perfect, and the service is great. You scan the menu with its always new and scrumptious selections, and you place your order.
The server brings your appetizer, a delectable dish of oysters Rockefeller topped with pieces of succulent, sweet lobster. The server then presents your salad, an over-the-top blend of crisp veggies and fruit with just the right amount of a chef-created, mouth-watering dressing.
The server returns when the entrée is due to arrive and says, in an oh-so-professional voice, “For the next, main part of your meal, please go to La Electracom restaurant two blocks down the street.” What???
Or you’re sitting in a stadium. It’s a perfect day — not too hot, not too cold — in great seats. It’s about the halfway point of the game, and your team is winning by a hair. Suddenly all action on the field stops, and the announcer comes over the P.A. system saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Thank you so much for coming today! To view the remainder of the game and find out who wins, please log onto WhoWonTheGame.com.” Are you out of your mind???
Now I know those scenarios are a bit extreme, but they are meant to bring focus to what’s happening all too much, particularly to the print industry (the Chestnut Hill Local excluded).
I subscribe to many magazines and newspapers. I look forward to reading the articles, recipes and tips. But what’s up with the increase in the “Well, that’s all we’re gonna tell you here. For more details, please visit us at www.blah-blah-blah.com.” Publishers seem to have this unfortunate misconception that:
• Absolutely everyone has a computer, an iPhone, an iPad, and
• They all use those devices 24/7.
Well, publishers, they don’t and … they don’t!
I talk to people from all walks of life, all the time, from their 20s to their 80s who either don’t have a computer or other internet-ready device at all; or have a computer because someone told them they should, but they never use it; or use a computer just for work and are too busy with life to sit in front of it past work hours.
A large portion of the population favors printed material. It’s called a newspaper. It’s called a magazine. It’s called a book. It’s NOT called a dot com!
Take a train sometime — a short suburbs-to-city run or a longer state-to-state trek. You’ll see plenty of people reading. The majority are not holding an eReader or an iPad. They’re holding a newspaper, a magazine, a book, and they’re turning those pages manually. That’s their choice.
I think publishers of printed materials have been sold a bill-of-goods by the makers of computers, computer software and internet devices. Publishers have been told that “absolutely everybody wants online everything!” And “Mr. Publisher, you’d better get onboard, or nobody’s gonna read what you’re putting out there!”
I say the reading world is not evolving as fast as the technology world would have us believe. It’s time to step back and take a more realistic look. Sure, put information out there on the Web, but don’t short-count your loyal, hardcopy readers by providing only half of the story.
Readers who are continually getting to the “end” of an article or story, only to find that it’s not really the end and they need to log on to get the rest of it will, one-by-one, say, “Nah … forget it. I’ll just read something else that is in hardcopy print.” Publishers, is it really worth the risk?
J. L. Sloss, who lives in Wyndmoor, is a writer of short stories and topical articles. She’s also a songwriter/performer and does commercial and corporate voice-overs.