The publishing world is going through a period of rapid change at the moment, with content increasingly being driven online and B2B titles across all industries face shrinking page counts.
All of which raises an interesting question: Is it worth printing a hard copy at all? At ARN we still believe the answer is yes and are reaffirming our commitment to the printed issue this week by launching a new look and feel.
The key reason why print is still valid comes back to the very concept that is threatening its existence in the first place - choice. Publishers are increasingly faced with the task of serving a fragmenting audience that wants to consume information in a variety of ways - regular visits to trusted websites, using search engines to find information on specific topics, signing up to electronic news feeds, podcasts, webcasts, blogs, wikis and on the list goes.
So why is print still relevant? The answer lies in the fact that a weekly issue is still a convenient way of collating the most important and interesting things that happen in the industry during any given seven days. It allows us to go into greater depth analysing the major stories, provide a summary of the local news week, review recently released products, plot the progress of a technology trend, and review what people in the industry have been doing recently - whether it's winning awards or visiting faraway places as a reward for their continued sales efforts.
And despite the many media formats available today, there are still plenty of people who prefer to pore over a weekly print issue of ARN in search of relevant information for their business. It is this tactile convenience makes print a very hardy format and I still believe that will ensure its longevity.
And so to our 'redesign', 'refresh', 'new look and feel' or whatever else you want to call it. Most of my time these days is spent looking for ways to broaden and improve the service we provide through our website, in-depth supplements and events. So you have our designer, Daniel Biro, and editor, Nadia Cameron, to thank for the pages in your hands while reading this. I think you'll agree that it looks great.
But behind the cleaner layout, I would like to stress the one thing that most definitely hasn't changed - we remain dedicated to providing news, views, product reviews and meaningful analysis that helps channel professionals be successful in their business. No matter what format ARN takes in the future, that commitment will always be our key differentiator.
I would like to finish this week by paying tribute to Ross Whitelaw, who passed away last week after serious illness. Having previously worked for Dick Smith Electronics, he spent the last decade championing the cause of independent retailers, often in rural areas, as general manager of the Leading Edge Computers buying group. Despite 30 years in the retail industry, his enthusiasm was still infectious and he will be sadly missed.