Wither print?

Paul Finch wrote a very measured piece for The Architects’ Journal about BD’s decision to end print publication shortly (not officially confirmed, but pretty definitely correct). He is uniquely positioned to do so, having edited both print titles. His point is that losing direct competition is always a pity, and that having rivals keeps publishers and editors on their toes.

Of course BD is not disappearing altogether, and as a publication that is particularly focused on news, with the immediacy which that implies and demands, it is particularly suited to online publication. On the other hand, Dezeen has shown that online publication can be a great way to showcase new buildings and sexy images. What is not so certain is whether the detailed discussions of new buildings in which BD has traditionally competed and compared with AJ, AR, AT and Riba Journal, will or can continue.

It might be good for weeklies to have direct competitors, but in fact AJ’s publisher, EMAP, will now have no direct competition for any of its three construction-based weeklies – AJ, Construction News and NCE. The latter two are doing fine, so one shouldn’t expect AJ to suffer.

This latest move does not negate a piece I wrote last autumn, arguing that there is still a place for the written word in architecture and in particular a place in print. That focused particularly on the strength of and future for monthlies as opposed to weeklies. In this fast-changing world, AJ may prove to be an anomaly. Long may it remain so.

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