Those were the days, my friend….

The most quoted and quotable bit from Kurt Andersen’s interview with Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey:

Near the end of our breakfast, I ask about the Future of Magazines. “The big question in everyone’s mind [at Time Inc.],” he says, “is how much [of the present struggle] is cyclical and how much is secular.”

A lot is secular–that is, permanent. We would like to believe that Internet-versus-print is analogous to TV-versus-radio in the fifties: The new doesn’t necessarily wipe out the old. But I think paper media today are more like sailing ships around 1860–still dominant but enjoying their last hurrah. I think it’s late in the magazine era. “I hope not,” says Huey. “If I thought they were dead, I’d do something else.” My elegiac turn has made this funny, enthusiastic man a little morose. “And [Time is] something that most people in America want to see survive, even if they don’t know it.”

That’s like saying most people want me to be President, they just don’t know it. No, I’d say that Time is hardly a necessity of life.

  • “No, I’d say that Time is hardly a necessity of life. ”

    A 25-year subscriber to Time. Currently a stack of 6 on my desk, unread and probably never to be read. Renewal is up in February; won’t be booking passage again on this particular “sailing ship.” Life and habits and sadly, Time, have changed.

  • I’m still not entirely convinced that the magazine is doomed. My wife goes into convulsions if her copy of Entertainment Weekly doesn’t arrive on time, and I would still much rather peruse the recipes of Saveur or Food and Wine in glossy paper format rather than click through the online content. And we are by no means Luddites.

    Paper magazines still afford the advantages of portability and ruggedness, and don’t konk out on your train ride home when you forget to charge the batteries. You can bring them into the kitchen and not worry about spattering food on them and read them in the bathroom without fear of dropping an expensive PDA on the tile floor or singing your thighs with an overheated laptop.

    Yes, mainstream news weeklies may in fact be slated for extinction in this aggregated digital world of ours, but I think it’ll be a while yet before online content can compete with the niche markets.

  • Was your point that I want you to be president? If so, good point.