Farewell to the Guardian comic section

This article has nothing to do with anything technical and everything to do with business and life.

I am a big fan of Seth Godin, who argues very persuasively and entertainingly that you need to make your product remarkable (so people will talk about it). A mediocre, me-too product is not going to give you a sustainable business.

For the last 2 years, I have religiously bought the Guardian newspaper every Saturday. Much of that had to do with the Comic section – a slim, neglected section tucked away deep inside which my children discovered by chance. Now I get pestered every week to buy the Guardian, although I slightly prefer the Telegraph myself, and my children rave about the Guardian to all their friends.

At the end of March, however, the Guardian decided to ‘kill-off’ the Comic section. Now, I used to do a lot of work for the Newspaper industry so I fully understand the mess they are in. And I run a small business myself so controlling costs and making enough money are hot topics for me.

What bothers me is that killing off a small and unique section is not going to solve the financial problems of the paper. It was probably a nice, easy target. But what it has done is to remove one of those little details which made the Newspaper really stand out from the crowd and made me buy the product. Perhaps they will only lose one sale from it (and I will still probably buy it on an infrequent basis) so maybe it makes sense from a pure short-term, financial point.

I think cost control is critical but it all reminds me that sometimes it is not costs we are really cutting but the value which makes our product truly remarkable.

So, it is with a twinge of sadness that I look forward to getting reaquainted with the Telegraph this weekend and hope they appreciate better the difference between ‘cost’ and ‘value’.

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Mark Stephens

System Architect and Lead Developer at IDRSolutions
Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.
Markee174

About Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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