Since I didn't like the video, I'm still stuck on the "saving the comics" theme. I had a thought while sitting in church, not listening the the sermon this morning. Obviously, the reason papers are dying is that people can get the content for free online. Equally obviously, if no one pays for content, eventually there won't be any. The ad model is not supporting the same breadth and quality of journalism that the subscription ad model did. (This is relevant because healthy newspapers are still the best comics-delivery vehicles.)
I know lots of smarter and better resourced folks are working on this issue, but it seems to me that ultimately, newspapers are going to need to become news developers - who sell their content in a format that can't be ripped off and repackaged for free by thousands of other sites within minutes of posting. There needs to be a value add - such that going to a central news delivery site, like a "newspapers.com" (currently an annoying search portal -but a good name to work with), gives me an option to "subscribe" either to individual reporters - or to compiled content (like today's edited papers) - or both and have the information presented to me in a highly readable format. I would essentially be setting up my own newspaper reading experience - with the help of editors if I so chose (and I probably would choose). I would pay for the convenience and quality of the material - and there would be ad revenue as well. (I might even pay to "scholarship" readers who can't afford a subscription - although I think the fees would be quite modest.)
The nice thing about this idea is that I could choose material from a local editor who is bringing me news of local council meetings, sports and music events, right along side NY Times and WSJ content - if that is what i selected and paid for. I'm interested in education reform - so I'd probably choose to follow reporters who specialize in that - and maybe even help fund specific research.
This would work best if I could read it on something that handled more like paper - like a kindle perhaps - or some not-yet-invented device for reading complied content. Obviously I would subscribe to the comics as well - and that is the point here.
This model only works if technology can be devised to keep much of the material exclusive - even if only for a couple of days.
I do read papers online - but there is a *lot* of room for improvement in both content and delivery - and therein lies hope for the future of the comics - and by extension, journalism as a whole.
I got hooked on PBS back in 2004 when you were first promoting the strip. I started sending Stephen e-mails because the strip was not yet published in my local newspaper, and he actually replied to me! The restraining order is now prominently framed above my desk, as a testament to my brush with stardom. Thank you, Stephen, and thank you Scott!
Hope the book does well - and there are more to follow. As long as the strip has readers, the book is probably going to do OK. Not so sure how strips are projected to fare in future, though.
I subscribe to 2 print papers - and also read others online. I used to joke (and half believed) that I only read the papers for the comics.
Turns out that wasn't really true. Much as I look forward to sitting down with a cup of coffee in the morning and reading the comics, I actually did value the other content. I'm not sure a paper that doesn't have much more to offer than the comics is worth my time....
I'm not ready to give up my print subscriptions - but I have a hard time seeing how papers can survive as such thin shells of their former selves. If that happens, I'll probably abandon the comics as well (at least as a daily ritual)- because clicking through a list of titles online to display each strip one at a time - just isn't the same experience.
There has to be a better way...
If I had a large, flat-screen monitor on the wall in my kitchen (the same one, I'd like to use to manage my family's calendar, grocery list, recipes, etc.), I could also read the paper, including the comics page from across the room - whilst enjoying my coffee. (It is absolutely critical to figure out how to couple the comics with the coffee experience. Nothing else matters.)
On the content-generation end someone has to solve the little issue of getting folks to pay for the stuff - but assuming that is solved and we have lots of high quality local and national news and comics - it still want it delivered in a way that lends itself to an enjoyable, morning ritual.
Asking me to go hunting for all the pieces that have always been assembled for me - every morning - is not the right answer. Making me click too many links, make too many individual decisions about what I do and don't want to see - is also not right. If my paper is going to move online -I still want it to function like my paper - visibly browse-able. Not a list of links....
Solve that problem - (i.e - find a way to make newspaper content, including comics a part of millions of folks daily ritual again in this brave new world of online content) and the book promotion issue solves itself.