I've spent the past couple of weeks on the road, recharging my batteries and driving across much of the Northeastern part of the country. Along the way, I caught up with quite a number of faces from the Spend Management world, including procurement and supply chain executives from the CPG and healthcare sectors. And I also had the chance to read the newspaper -- an actual print paper -- almost everyday. Before the trip, this felt almost like a guilty pleasure when I had the chance to do it. But I can tell you, after curling up to The Times and a strong cup of coffee almost daily, it's something I plan to do more often. Getting your hands dirty with newsprint versus reading a periodical or daily online yields a completely different experience. For example, I find myself scanning and finding articles in a paper that I'd otherwise overlook in an online sight. Social media plays a similar role by also subtlety pushing you to read things you might otherwise miss -- albeit differently
With Twitter, Stumble Upon, and Facebook, for example -- not to mention the countless blogs I keep up with on a daily basis -- I find what I'd say is now the bulk of recommended reading material that I consume (versus going directly to sites such as The Wall Street Journal and scanning the digital print for things to read). But not even this compares with the chance to read copious amounts of actual ink. One of the books I had the chance to read on the trip was Warren Buffet's biography. In it, the author mentions how the Sage of Omaha is a tenacious newspaper and magazine reader. After trying to follow in Buffet's news footsteps by keeping up with print, I can say there's significant merit to this approach for staying on top of what's going on.
But unfortunately, I don't think there's much life left for print in our sector. One of the gentlemen I had the chance to meet on this trip was an editor of a publication that I once wrote for. He mentioned how the parent trade publishing company he works with is having a difficult time with the print business model staying profitable (or even close to profitability). When he heard that I now write Spend Matters and make a living at it, I could see that he was beginning to put two and two together about a potential path he might take at some point in the future. Which speaks to why print, regardless of how much we need it, is unlikely to survive at today's level a decade from now.