It's been weeks since I've posted, I know. Travel, deadlines, and something I thought might be a case of SARS have kept my head down; I have plenty to say, but neither the time nor the stamina currently to say it. Stay tuned.
the incredible shrinking trade rags
Now InfoWorld has followed eWeek from tabloid size down to the smaller (8″ X 10 1/2″) newsweekly magazine format, though InfoWorld opted to swallowed the red pill design-wise and go all the way to the magazine format, trading its start page for (gasp) a standard biz-mag cover format. I anticipated this move; I had mentioned the newsweekly format as an advantage for InformationWeek in a discussion I had with a former InfoWorld manager (back when he still was an InfoWorld manager), and he had said,”Watch this space.”
The problem is, their art department hasn't figured out how to do magazine covers yet. The first two issues in the new format have essentially been glorified box shots (a 10-Gig Ethernet switch, an HP server). Not exactly breaking new ground there, are they?
Format isn't the only thing shrinking in the tech weekly trades. Page count is still way down: eWeek has 64 pages (and they can still count their cover toward edit), with an anemic 17 pages of full-page ads (and 4 pages of cross-pub “enterprise classified group” ads, for a total of 21 pages of paid ads). Vast swaths of the middle of the book's 36 edit pages are unsullied by ad pages. InfoWorld has only 2 more full page ads (19) in its 68-page folio, plus its careers classifieds and 4-page “infomarket” section (unless you count the 12 page package dedicated to HP as an ad, too. It smells a bit like one.) InformationWeek has 22 full-page ads, a 4-page marketplace section (with two full page ads I don't count)in its 68-page folio.
ComputerWorld, the last tabloid hold-out in the executive IT trade weekly race, had a 56-page folio, and…16 full-page ads. Ouch. I suspect it will travel downward in format soon, to cut costs, unless Pat McGovern is on some sort of bad medication mix.
So what do these numbers mean? Well, for one thing, May is traditionally the last month before the summer advertising drop-off, which means that barring unforseen circumstances, all of these magazines will see pages fall off further through June, July and August. I predict at least one of the four contenders I've mentioned, if not all of them, will see full page ads dip into the single-digits before the summer is over. Which means, friends, that this is not the time to be looking for a job in the corporate IT weekly trade press.
I'm a reformed Gnutella user (who sought the digital versions of all the albums I owned still tucked away somewhere in my parents' basement) and a reborn music addict (I own and play (poorly) two guitars and a couple of other musical instrument). And Apple figured out how to hook me– a 99-cent price point for single song downloads, and $10 for most albums. And the 30-second listening room feature made my trips to the local chain store (or even time browsing music on Amazon) seem a waste of time–and opened some doors that I might have otherwise left closed musically because of issues like , er, cover art.
Case in point: I just downloaded Sum 41's album, “Does This Look Infected?”. While the visuals associated with the album probably would have kept me from listening to it in the record store (and it certainly isn't in circulation on the radio stations I listen to during my 15 minutes in the car every day), I decided to risk a listen. And I found, to my surprise, the punk-metal hooks were oddly compelling, at $10 and without the lurid cover.
And it was just too damned easy to do it, since Apple already had all my particulars because of my .Mac account. Instant gratification is a dangerous thing.
(Just to show you how bad it is, 10 minutes later I downloaded