Don’t become a commodity.

For several years now, people have been declaring “Print is dead!” Newspapers and magazines are folding up shop. Why buy a newspaper with yesterday’s news when you can get today’s news on the internet for free? The news is a commodity. It all seems to just be regurgitated from the AP or Reuters wire and everyone has the exact same news as the next guy. If your product is a commodity, then, for the most part, common sense pretty much dictates whoever has the best deal on said commodity, will be the victor in the fight for consumers.

But, believe it or not, there are many print publications out there that are not commodities. The above picture is of a recent issue of ESPN magazine. As you can see, it is very healthy and weighs in at 188 pages—about twice the width of a pencil. And at 12″ x 15″, it’s not a small format. It is full of great articles, the art direction is very well thought out and the photography is a curation of top photographers. It is an engaging publication. Furthermore, AdAge recently published an article of it’s top 10 magazines which noted increases in departments such as ad revenue and paid subscriptions for publications like The Economist, This Old House, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Monocle, Vanity Fair, Garden and Gun, Food Network Magazine, Time and Vogue. Why are publications like these thriving in a time when many are dying? Because they are providing a product that you cannot get elsewhere. And while they are certainly moving ahead with their online ambitions, their print counterparts are doing just fine on their own. Print is not dead!

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am the tech geek of all tech geeks. I’m usually the first on the block with the latest camera, cell phone jammer or anything the geniuses at Apple have dreamed up. As much as I love tech, I don’t enjoy reading a magazine in digital form as much as I do in printed form. I have a subscription to Wired magazine which comes in both digital (iPad) and printed form. As cool as the iPad version is, I still would much rather read the printed version. They way you read through a magazine is different from swiping through a touch screen.

As a photographer, this is a scary time. Well, not as scary as we thought when this whole digital media revolution kickstarted a few years ago. Many thought the advent of digital media meant the death of photography. But come to find out, not all publications are going to die. And as some do transition more to digital, they are still going to need content and advertisers are still going to need great images. For the time being it seems a photographer will still be relevant unless you let yourself become a commodity—but that’s a whole other topic for another day.