A rearview mirror and bright headlights

 

This month’s issue of POWER commemorates 125 years of continuous publishing for the power generation business. The anniversary gives us all a chance to assess where we’ve been and where we’re going as a publication and as an industry. As power industry professionals, we all know the value of a rearview mirror—of remembering lessons learned. But we also know that if you don’t keep moving ahead—aided by strong headlights—you risk getting passed.

Our cover story looks back at the magazine’s history, which tells us that POWER has always helped plant owners and operators learn from the past and from best practices. The magazine also helped them step confidently into the future by shining a light on the newest useful practices and technologies. So it’s fitting that this issue also looks into the future—a future that almost certainly will include new nuclear plant construction techniques, new fuel sources, and maybe even a new type of grid.

Old + new formats = better service

On the publishing side of the business we’re also honoring the past while driving new technologies—and test driving emerging ones.

Many of you and your colleagues have been reading POWER for many years as a print publication. Just over a decade ago POWER joined the Internet age with a web site that allowed readers to search for and access the magazine’s content electronically. More recently, as digital media have proliferated, the POWER brand was extended to a number of electronic products to better serve our readers and advertisers. Those properties now include POWER magazine’s digital edition, POWERmag.com (the POWER web site), POWERnews (our weekly e-mail newsletter), POWER Blog (for daily topical Internet discussion), the POWER online Buyers’ Guide, and COAL POWER (the digital magazine dedicated to coal-fired generation).

ThePOWER franchise has also grown in the physical world. Although exhibitions and trade shows in our industry have been around for many decades, the past decade saw them rise in stature as valuable purveyors of information, primarily through conference content. POWER is now directly affiliated with the annual ELECTRIC POWER Conference & Exhibition, held this year in Chicago.

With all of these media options available for disseminating information and analysis, what’s the status of the traditional print publication? Some have assumed that its value would diminish as readers acquired more ways of gathering information. However, the printed POWER magazine is as strong as, or stronger than, it’s been in many years.

In 2006 the number of editorial pages in POWER increased by 10%. In 2007 the magazine is being published monthly, an increase from nine times annually. As demand continues to grow, it seems that—despite the ease of obtaining information digitally—the value of portability and of ink on paper remains strong.

What’s ahead for POWER? We’re working with technology that allows you to view and participate in meetings, discussions, and conferences on your computer at the comfort of your desk in real time.

Rumors of print’s death . . .

I’m frequently asked what will become of the print magazine. At a recent publishing conference this question came up again, in the context of a discussion about new electronic paper that’s now in production. It’s a flexible product that looks and feels like paper, yet it allows users to download content onto the page.

I don’t know when, or if, print will be completely overtaken by digital publishing, but based on POWER’s recent growth, it won’t be anytime soon. And frankly, that’s for you, the readers, to decide. You have the opportunity to choose how you get your information; it’s our job to provide it.

Though I can’t predict what tools we’ll be using to distribute POWER’s content in the future, I can assure you, with a dozen years of digital technology behind us, that the magazine is well positioned to continue delivering valuable content in just about any format—in print, in person, and online.

Ultimately, the technology used in information sharing is just a tool. Whatever the publishing tools of the next 125 years turn out to be, POWER will remain dedicated to its purpose: serving as the industry’s rearview mirror and illuminating headlight.