Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 11.15.47 AMTo this point in my life and my work, I remain a stalwart of the printed page. That is true, even while I publish ebooks, utilizing the Internet to cut cost and widen the availability of the work I do. I like print. I enjoy the hard-copy product that has been with us for hundreds of years. Although the digital version may be more durable in the long run, the print copy feels traditional and at least a little comforting at times. So I continue to write for print each week, and I like it.

One of the publications I contribute to is a local print publication. The 863 Magazine is an invention of Sergio and Andrea Cruz. Passionate promoters of a lifestyle many aspire to, these two never fail to make me smile when we meet, and always remind me why it is better to live a life you love than it is to covet material wealth above all else. I’m proud to write for 863. The title itself establishes the focus of the magazine – on the people, products, events, and points of interest contained within the 863 area code. Central Florida never looked so authentic.

Like so many local publications, 863 works with some talented writers. I know and like several of them, both personally and professionally. And like a growing number of print publications, 863 is also available digitally. At the very least that means snowbirds who spend the summers up north and the winters down south, can keep up with the goings on in the region via their PC, Mac, tablet, phone, or other device.

My latest contribution to 863 has to do with getting older. I am doing that, for certain. So far I kind of like the journey. But I reserve the right to change my mind. I just hope the trip is as entertaining for you as it has been for me. 

Once upon a time America was awash in local publications. There were morning newspapers, afternoon newspapers, neighborhood fliers, and handbills, and journals that entertained or informed their readers. Sometimes the readership was small. When aimed at a localized group a small publication can be of real value to the community it serves. People actually earned a living and supported families by owning, managing, or producing a small, local periodical. Often those three tasks were undertaken by the same person.

Times have changed. The Internet has opened the floodgates of creativity for many, but lowered the income level of most who participate. For the local publisher the Internet has been a double-edged sword. While it allows for inexpensive distribution of the product, which is a positive effect, the digital version of a publication often brings in pennies on the dollar compared to what the print version could do with advertising dollars. That’s bad. Mostly because it has caused innumerable publications to cease production.

Some of those now defunct publications were powerhouses in their prime. Some were meek little products put out by passionate people with a real desire to serve their neighborhood, or town, or region. The publishing industry is in transition – and until it all shakes out and we know what the reality of our future will be, many of those who create printed material (or digitally delivered materials) will remain in flux. To some extent we are all at the mercy of what comes next. Which would be fine, except that nobody really knows what comes next will look like.

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