After 33 years December saw the last edition of the Japanese version of Playboy. Its removal from the newsstands of Japan mirrors the trend across the world where printed publications are disappearing due to the continued squeeze from electronically delivered content.
From and initial print run of the first Japanese edition of 438,000 copies the December 2008 edition had fallen to just serving just 22,000 readers.
The loss of the printed edition of Playboy from another country doesn’t just mean the demise of the icon of male-targeted publications from another country; It puts another nail in the coffin of the art of creating printed magazines.
In the last century magazines went from black and white publications, hand typeset with engraved illustrations to glossy, full-colour publications with first photographs, then fully digitally composed pages. At their best they were an art form. It wasn’t just in their presentation that they defined how we consumed news and features.
By being published at quarterly or monthly intervals they made us wait for each edition and packaged their content in a way that was quite unique. Now, the Internet means you can have an edition every day, or every hour. But how can that compare with a carefully crafted monthly periodical. It lacks permanency.
And there of course is the other point. If you ignore the changes in the content and style of writing that a move to the Web engenders you lose something unique to magazines – the ability to hold it, turn the pages and slip it under the bed to read a day, week, month or decade later.
You could of course join Playboy.com, but I just don’t think that’s quite the same.
RIP Playboy Japan
May 1975 – December 2008