Print Is Dead After All

Joshua Karp’s media startup seemed quixotic, well, from the start: the Printed Blog, a free weekly newspaper whose content was culled entirely from the blogosphere. The 21st Century DeWitt Wallace—profiled in our America’s Most Promising Startups series—began with an eight-page issue on Jan. 27, passed out to commuters in Chicago, his home city.

He made it longer than I or anyone else had thought, producing 16 issues and distributing 80,000 print copies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, in addition to Chicago. But on July 7, Karp posted a notice on his printedblog site announcing he had run out of money and pulled the plug on his venture.

In an interview, he told me he had secured $250,000 apiece from two investors, contingent on him nailing down $250,000 more from a third. Despite making the rounds with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, however, he couldn't round up that last investor.

The Printed Blog cost Karp a lot. He figures he spent more than $90,000 of his own money; much of that is owed on his credit cards. For all that, he generated just over $10,000 in ad revenue.

If he could do it all over again, he says he'd stay small and local. And he really would like to do it all over again. "I got convinced very early on that this could be a very big thing," he says. "I thought this could be the future of newspapers." He still believes that. "If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would just go do it," he says.

Meantime, Karp predicts that the Huffington Post will copy him by publishing a glossy monthly written entirely by bloggers. His rationale: Even today, with print publications dying, ink-on-paper products generate so much more ad revenue than Web sites. I'll let you know what Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington has to say about to say about that.

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