Paper Looks Different Today

By Paul Miller

I spent my Sunday afternoon going through a ton of old magazines, conference brochures and other 8-1/2″ x 11″ printed materials I’d been filing on some bookshelves of my home office. It was the first time I’d purged myself of stuff like this in four years and I only hope the recycle collector has enough room on his truck for it all.

Funny thing about this process though. I found myself looking at all this paper differently than ever before. Even though I’m constantly tossing newspapers into the recycle bin, the enormous stacks of magazines I got rid of really made me feel like I was unloading what’s becoming a bygone era. I almost felt like I was throwing out old phonographs or 8-track tape players.

As I prepare to leave my job of the past 3-3/4 years once it’s terminated next week, I’ve come to the realization that as chief editor for a national business publication in charge of every letter and image that’s printed and posted on our Website and e-newsletters, about 95 percent of the files I kept throughout my tenure were on my computer. I threw out almost all my file folders because most of them I had inherited from my predecessor. And they’re pretty useless now.

Having grown up with so much print all around me, I feel like we’re really smack dab in the middle of a major transformation from print to digital. Because my wife, Donna, does a lot of catalog and online shopping, we still get plenty of catalogs. And catalogs are far from dead yet. So are magazines. Like I said, we’re right in the middle of this shift.

It’s hard to say how soon we’ll move toward the end of this transformation, but I just found it a bit eerie today, because it really began to sink in that the shift is taking place for real now. The reality is, I believe the message that people like Al Gore have been preaching for years is starting to sink in on people in a subtle sort of way. Perhaps it was accelerated a bit by the recession or the rising cost of mailing printed publications like magazines and catalogs.

Hard to say, but it’s happening.

Paul Miller has held the dual role of editor-in-chief of All About ROI magazine (formerly Catalog Success) and editorial director of eMarketing and Commerce since early 2006. Due to the down economy, however, parent company North American Publishing Co. recently decided to eliminate both positions, effective Dec. 1, so Paul is seeking new opportunities. You can reach him at

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