Scalpel Magazine launches, plus more print vs. online debate

Having been out of town on the relevant evening, I’m late to the field in trumpeting the launch of Scalpel Magazine (although I actually mentioned it ages ago, and let the cat somewhat out of the bag in the process). Most of the genre blogosphere appears to have taken the news of a new reviews and criticism outlet fairly positively, notwithstanding Nick Mamatas and friends. There’s some fine content on there, too. I for one hope it will last the course – and not merely because I want another venue to send my own work to, either.

Pat Cadigan’s guest editorial for Scalpel mentions the decline of book reviews in mainstream print media, which is a hot topic at the moment, especially in the US. I’ve found that the Print Is Dead blog has had some wise things to say on the matter. Meanwhile, the UK’s very own Grumpy Old Bookman has added his dime to the jukebox:

“Finally, however, let us remember one simple fact. However erudite the print reviewer may be, and however exquisite his taste and critical judgement, he is handicapped by comparison with the most humble blogger. Our print man cannot link directly to other sources.

This is, I would suggest, a major problem. Twenty years ago, of course, no one could even imagine it. But now it has to be faced.”

That’s about right, I think. I’m not gloating about the declining relevance of print media (in reference to book reviews or anything else), but nor am I willing to shut my eyes on what, to me, is an obvious and irresistable trend. Selah.

One thought on “Scalpel Magazine launches, plus more print vs. online debate”

  1. Interesting opinion on the relevance of print materials. Have you seen the Deloite & Touche State of Media Democracy Survey (2007)? It clearly concludes that print media is still considered as more trustworthy and more valuable to people of all ages (down to 13 years old) than online advertising or editorials. Equally as important as the ability to link directly to other sources is the fact that online (blogs especially) writers are too often inaccurate and not deeply immersed in the subject matter. Fact checking, a long standing print media standard, is overlooked in many online venues. The Deloite and Touche survey also found convergence in a media preferences survey conducted by That is particularly notable as is dedicated to propagating online media. The other dimension to consider is historical: New media have never been able to completely replace the older traditional ones. Take photography for example. In the early 1800s painters and illustrators were outraged that the new media was going to make them obsolete. However, look around today. There are more individuals now than ever before who are able to make there living purely off illustration and painting. Not only in the art world but in editorials, magazines, newspapers, books, online animations and a plethora of other outlets. In the 1980s someone jumped the gun and pronounced the death of print. almost 30 years later we’re consuming more print than ever before. In addition to those items; from the perspective of global warming the coal fueled data centers and network servers are quickly becoming one of largest emitters of carbon emissions. Within the next year or so they will have a larger carbon footprint that the entire US paper industry.

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