It is really intersting looking at the magazine ABCs which were published yesterday. There’s a very good round up of them here http://mediaweek.co.uk/news/1022062/MAGAZINE-ABCs-Publishers-performance-toda…
They show that overall magazines sales and revenue are dipping – they have been on a downaward curve since 2005 – but also that some sectors are struggling more than others. So while Lad’s mags are heading for oblivion and music titles are losing readers, women’s titles are doing ok.
Quite how many mags survive, and indeed prosper, in the next few years is largely down to publishers being able to keep costs down and reinvent business models (maybe getting used to lower profit margins). Jeff Jarvis has a few tips on the latter here http://www.buzzmachine.com/2010/08/04/whither-magazines-2/#
I do think though that as time goes by magazines will become oddly fashionable again. You can see it already with the explosion of new indie mags – this is a great place to track them – http://magculture.com/blog/ Although the web will march on as the ultimate receptacle for content, maybe people will hanker for the good old days of print and keep buying magazines. There might also be a market too for magazines that are more like annuals with very long features. There are some more thoughts on this here http://ashleynorris.posterous.com/the-future-of-magazines-is-it-really-all-bout
It isn’t just me who thinks this way too. Joe Pulizzi at Junta 24 has just written a feature called 7 reasons why print will make a comeback in 2011 http://blog.junta42.com/content_marketing_blog/2010/08/print-custom-media-com…
To be fair Joe doesn’t see a lot of good news for mainstream media (he is writing from a US perspective and I think things are easier in the UK) but he does say that print will be a real opportunity for branded content companies.
The two most striking things he says are
Less traditional publishers are printing magazines today, which leaves opportunities for content marketers.
Social media, online content and iPad applications are all part of the marketing mix today. Still, what excites marketers and media buyers is what IS NOT being done. They want to do something different…something new. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve heard many marketers talk about leveraging print as something new in their marketing mix. Unbelievable.
Anyhow it is a fascinating read and I think what he says makes a lot of sense (I will admit to a little bias as I work for branded content companies).
He also cites the trend of people unplugging from social media. Not using Twitter, keeping up with Facebook etc. For all the recent talk of burnt out bloggers etc I think he is stretching the point here. Even is five million people unplug from Facebook in the UK that still leaves a good 25 million checking their updates.
The one big question for publishers is just how bad will this double dip recession be (if we have one at all). It might not end up being the web, print costs or the reinvention of advertising that kills magazines, it might simply be that punters can no longer afford them.