December 11, 2015 Last Updated 4:46 pm

‘Printer’s Row Journal’ to go digital-only in 2016 Chicago Tribune announces

The Tribune’s premium book supplement, launched in 2012, will go digital-only in the coming year, as publisher looks to move readers online and into a (new?) app

The Chicago Tribune announced that the December 27 issue of Printers Row Journal will be the last print edition for the paper’s premium book supplement. The 24 page supplement was launched in 2012.

“The best part of the new Printers Row is that you can access it on your desktop, on your tablet or on your mobile phone,” said Jennifer Day, editor of Printer’s Row Journal. “How often have you been in a bookstore and couldn’t remember a recommendation from the Biblioracle? Now you can call up not only the recommendation but the book itself within the Printers Row app.”

PRJ-680The app… now that may be a problem.

The Tribune currently has an app called Printer’s Row Journal for iPad which was last updated in April of 2014. That update made the app iOS 7 compliant (as you probably know, we are now on iOS 9). The app appears under the Tribune Interactive developer account, but actually comes from Olive Software, so it is a replica edition of the Sunday print product (which, of course, is going away.

There is also an app called Trib Books which is from the third party vendor Inktera (and which only has three reviews, all 1-star reviews).

So, does this mean a brand new app is forthcoming? That seems to be the message (at least I hope so).

“We launched the printed edition of Printers Row Journal almost four years ago to target book lovers across Chicagoland,” said Tribune publisher Tony Hunter in a statement given to Robert Feder who covers Chicago media. “It has been a successful experiment, and we look forward to continuing to engage with this niche audience through an enhanced digital product.”

About 4,000 readers signed up for the old print product, according to Feder’s sources, which cost $99. The Tribune’s website current says the digital version is $29, that may be what the paper charges going forward (or it could become a free product, I suppose, as the editor did not mention any price changes).

Book sections in daily newspapers are increasingly rare, so the move to shutter Printer’s Row Journal should not be too surprising. Borders is gone, and Barnes & Noble, which should have an interest in supporting book sections, is struggling and move into toys and other goods. Those that are keeping book sections alive often dedicate two or three pages to books on Sunday, or make books a regular column inside the Lifestyle or Entertainment sections.

It is, of course, rather ironic that the Chicago Tribune should go digital-only with Printer’s Row. The paper’s dedication to digital rarely (OK, never) extends to its own media reporting, and the company’s app development had gone through many phases, from enthusiastic to unimaginative.

RedEye-ipad-580For a short period of time in 2012, before Tribune Publishing was spun off from the Tribune Company (the broadcast side become Tribune Media) the paper experimented with digital magazines, launching several for local sports teams, and launching the digital edition of RedEye. The company even hosted an event with its partner Mag+ which I attended downtown (and I almost never attend events).

The effort was short-lived, with the digital magazines shuttered and the apps pulled, though the digital edition of RedEye and the Chicago Tribune Photography apps remain in the App Store. (The RedEye app shows that the last digital edition produced for the app was a Summer Music Guide issue, probably published in March, while the Photography app, which featured 2012 photos, last saw an update in August of 2013.)

Since the spin-off, Tribune Publishing has brought on Denise Warren, formerly from the NYT, to be the company’s President of Digital. The company also recently announced two additional hires who will be reporting to Warren in NYC: Rajiv Pant as the publisher’s first Chief Product, Technology and User Experience Officer; and Mohit Pandey as Senior Vice President of Engineering and Mobile.

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