Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Sad Demise of Print

Eat and Travel Weekly ends publication on August 3
Eat and Travel Weekly used to be the bible to pick up if you wanted an authoritative guide to the restaurant scene in Hong Kong. It featured the newest restaurants, reviews, the best of the best, as well as travel tips for destinations around the world.

One former editor told me that working there would ruin your digestive system because when they tried to find the best char siu or the best mooncake for example, they definitely tried a lot of them -- in one go.

An article testing out different Mont Blanc cakes in town
Samples from 50 or even 100 establishments would be couriered to the office, where someone was delegated to label each one from one to 50 or one to 100 so that they could be tasted blindly.

And yes, they would try each one to try to determine which one deserved the gold standard.

However, in the last few years, the economy has taken a big hit especially in print media, and advertising plunged, forcing the magazine, owned by Next Media (now Next Digital), to be downsized and folded into Next Magazine in 2015.

But a few days ago it was announced the popular magazine would have its last print run on August 3, and from then onwards will be digital only with a website and mobile app presence.

The announcement comes after the trouble publishing company owned by Jimmy Lai Chi-ying sold several magazines to businessman Kenny Wee Ho for HK$500 million, but Eat and Travel Weekly was not included in the deal.

A story about different styles of izakaya in Hong Kong
"Owing to the decline of print media, it is with regret that we are announcing the end of our print edition... although the room for survival in print media is shrinking, we will carry on with our professional spirit and continue to shine on the digital platform," said a statement on the magazine's Facebook page.

"Lastly, we would like to express gratitude to our readers for their support over the past 20 years."

It's sad news when such a popular publication ceases to put out a print version -- if Eat and Travel Weekly can't survive, what hope is there for the rest of Hong Kong's magazines?

This is the death knell for print publications in Hong Kong -- that the shift to digital is moving really fast, as everyone checks their smartphones for the latest news, than deliberately go to the newsstands to get a magazine.

Which publication will die next? Stay tuned.

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