Is print really dying for architecture?

Yesterday morning I was judging the digital categories for the IBP awards, run by the organisation that exists for journalists and communicators in the built environment.

Yesterday morning I was judging the digital categories for the IBP awards, run by the organisation that exists for journalists and communicators in the built environment. The awards, which are highly prestigious, have had digital categories for some years, and there were some fantastic entries by great journalists and by organisations using digital platforms in imaginative and relevant ways. It was quite a high.

Then I saw a story run by The Guardian saying that EMAP, the publisher of AJ and AR (and also of Construction News and NCE) is to make all its titles digital only in the next 18 months. And I thought how sad and how odd it is. 

The latest issue of AJ was accompanied by a supplement on the 50th anniversary of architect ADP – a nice piece of work, and also a source of income. AJ has done a lot of these supplements, as has AR and this will be a source of revenue that will vanish if it abandons print.

And the point is, architects like print. They like stroking the pages, they like the way that drawings and images and text can be counterposed (even if many of them don’t read much of the text). The RIBA journal is on record as saying that it would not abandon print because RIBA members value it, and members of the Landscape Institute, whose journal, Landscape, I edit, feel the same way.

AJ and AR are both well over a century old. I suspect there will be an effort to buy them out. Which may or may not succeed. 

Is this withering inevitable? Well, I also learnt yesterday about the Kickstarter campaign that Shumi Bose and Jack Self are running to launch The Real Review, a new architectural magazine. It will, of course, they claim be different from every other architectural magazine. it is aimed at not just architects but at a wider public, and will look at the cultural and political aspects of architecture and not ‘just’ at buildings. Which by the way traditional magazines don’t do either. But it is ambitious and good luck to them. It seems architectural print may not die just yet. 

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