Sunday, August 31, 2014

Changing Times: The Internet - Slow Killer of the Print Industry

Changing Times

Time was when I would purchase a news magazine such as Time and it would actually have many more pages than now. Today, the print is so small in some magazines that I can barely read them.

When I first started to quilt, quilt history books were very few. Quilt magazine titles were scarce, the main magazine being Quilter's Newsletter magazine. The American Quilt Study Group had a small roster of women. The program to certify appraisers was just beginning. Today, every state of the union has at least one certified quilt appraiser. To say that "things have changed" is an understatement.

When I wrote a comprehensive book about quilt care, there was very little posted online about the topic. Meanwhile, everyone and their uncle became a sudden expert and in some online articles that were a thinly-veiled repeat of what I had written, information was shared, some of it true and some (additions) to it false.

There has been a whole series of books written about medieval quilts. Quilt retreats abound and big prize money is available to quilters who win awards. The American Quilt Museum is filled with prize-winning quilts for which their makers have taken a cash prize in exchange for the museum keeping their quilt in perpetuity.

Bob Dylan was prophetic when he sang the words, "The times they are a-changin'."

The Internet seems to have taken over. Everyone (except me, I imagine) owns a Smartphone or an Ipad, or uses a Wifi connection). Everyone (except me) "texts" - What happened to talking with people in real time?

The Internet is killing the market for quilt shops that used to give classes, and for print sources that could be purchased (books, etc.). I have been guilty myself of providing detailed written information and lots of photos...for free...on my Internet site (, a site currently under my review.

Today, old patterns are treated as though they are fantastic "new" discoveries. Online entities provide directions for hexagons, and the latest craze/phase of quilting involves using lots of (white) background areas so that more machine quilting can be done on quilts in the "modern quilt movement." As far as I can see, the quilts take old patterns and use large scale fabric but there is really nothing terribly "new" or "modern" otherwise about the quilts. I suspect that the "modern art movement" is a set of words to help young people think that they are "hep" and doing something totally different than making Grandma's quilts.

It is all good except for the fact that print magazines are suffering and going out of business. That has been a problem for the past 10 years. If people do not buy a magazine or take a subscription, the print material goes away forever.

We are changing. It is true. However, I have lived long enough and suffered enough losses to say that I miss a lot of what was "good" in the past. Yet, I realize that we must embrace the future and the new capabilities that technology provides. I already feel like a dinosaur by not being a Smartphone user or text-er. From what I hear though, that very fact may keep me out of trouble.

People my age who have been in on the quilt revival since the beginning and have saved magazines now find ourselves with the dilemma of downsizing some of them. To me and to others who love print sources, it is a joy to pick up a new magazine and hold it in our hands. I hope there are a few more dinosaurs around and that print publications can survive the latest onslaught of "free" information online. Long live printed resources!

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