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The Chess Files

Is print dead?

The answers are out there.

By Jim Eade

Is there a need for printed chess magazines in this day and age? Before tackling this question I should come clean about my personal bias. I have always loved the printed word. I had my own publishing company (Hypermodern Press) and I helped publish the California Chess Journal, which was the official record of CalChess, the Northern California Chess Association.

When the Journal went online only, my relationship to CalChess pretty much ceased to be. It became obvious that my relationship to the organization was dependent upon the printed magazine. I simply didn’t go to it online.

I should also confess that I have always loved reference works. I owned a huge dictionary, a world Atlas and even a globe! I just checked the globe and it still thinks the Soviet Union exists! This has always been the problem with certain types of printed materials. They can become out of date. It has only been relatively recently that Apple, Google and others have caused me to rely exclusively on online searches for my research questions and fact checks.

The other problem with printed materials is the cost to produce them. Even their online versions require content, which isn’t always free, but the printed versions also have publication and distribution costs, which are not always trivial. Is it still worthwhile to produce them?

I asked Frank Niro, President of the Chess Journalists of America, for his opinion. He still believes that there is an important role to be played by printed chess magazines. He listed a few reasons:

  1. Some people are still not in the digital age and will never be.
  2. For some, it is still more convenient to reference print.
  3. The older the reader, the more attached to print they might be.
  4. Libraries still exist and people still use them.

His response elaborated on each of these subjects, but one overriding theme seemed to emerge. The younger generation probably does not need or want printed copies. When that generation becomes the older generation the time for printed materials may have past, but we aren’t there yet. Are we?

You can send your chess questions and answers to me at jeade@uschesstrust.org.