In Which A Middle Aged Print Executive Gives Up All Print Media For A Month And Lives To Tell The Tale

Had an interesting conversation a week or so ago with a fiftysomething exec who’s spent more or less his entire working life involved in businesses that put ink on paper.

He decided to go an entire month without print, and rely on his Kindle, his iPhone and his computers for all of his reading.

Key extracts from our conversation come after the jump, with my questions appearing in brackets.

I decided roughly a month ago to dispense with touching any paper media property, and just use my kindle, computers, and iPhone: "This is what the world is. I am going to give it a shot."

So. It’s sustainable. It’s s sustainable posture. It’s not optimal but I’ve got to factor in [laughing] a generational bias.

[Did you enjoy reading on the Kindle?], I’ve gotta tell you, it’s there. The only category I believe is unassailable is home design and fashion. But other than that, wow.

[Are you going back to paper media?} Oh, of course, I am. I love newspaper and books and magazines. But, when you listen to people defend print media, the fundamental defense is portability. I’m here to tell you, that’s out the window. This stuff was all portable.

[Did you miss anything—news stories, anything like that?] No. Nothing. I browsed [the Web] during the course of the day. I have a bunch of RSS feeds on three or four newspapers, a handful of magazines, all that kind of stuff. The mobile New York Times is really good. And really easy to use.

The long feature is harder in this environment. I read some story what was in the weekend journal this week that was interesting. I read on the kindle. And then I read it again when I got home. My month was up, and I could pick up newspaper. I read the story in print and it took me two-thirds of the article to realize I’d read it on my kindle. The lack of organic matter, matters.

But again, that could be a generational bias. It was fun. We’ve had this conversation before. My relationship to magazines is significantly compromised by the Web. Anything that’s got a news analysis angle, you know, by the time I’m done with my blogs and my online stuff, that that print package is just not as necessary. I get to it when I get to it. Whereas my relationship with daily newspapers has in some ways narrowed and deepened. I still really read the Times.

But the whole book thing was fascinating. The Kindle is a little klutzy. It’s got a dopey form factor. But it was not appreciably different from reading a book. Reading long articles on the kindle is fun. I downloaded some articles on it. Zip—it was there. It was fun.

[will you stick with the Kindle?] I am not sure. It’s very convenient for a traveler [note: this executive flies a great deal] but, again, it’s generational. I love books. I want the book. Books, I want, and I want ‘em in my house.

The economics of content are totally compromised. For me, the best example of it is Madonna moving from Warner Brothers to Livenation. Because she knows that she can get more income from an event company than a music label. That’s because there is something perishable and valuable about the live event. That is content that cannot be replicated. Any content today that is highly perishable and not unique has no value.