A Calm, Sane Look at the Magazine Industry

Everybody just needs to calm down and take a breath. That seems to be the attitude of Joe Berger, the semi-anonymous writer and circulation consultant behind NewsStandPros.

In a recent post, Berger notes the recent buzz surrounding magazine distribution in North America.

“This week, the newsstand business is buzzing with the news that TNG, the largest magazine wholesaler in North America is purchasing Ingram Periodicals, LLC (IPI) from the Ingram Content Group. IPI is the exclusive magazine distributor to Barnes and Noble, Jo Anne’s Fabrics, and several hundred independent bookstores. B&N may account for as much as 75 -80% of IPI’s business according to several industry professionals,” Berger explains.

“As soon as this news was released, my email and my phone blew up with comments and questions about what all of this will mean,” he continues. “What is the future for the newsstand side of the magazine business?”

His response is characteristically calm and decidedly not panicky. He notes that things will change; some employees will move to TNG, others will not. And life will go on.

“What’s been going on in the newsstand distribution business since the massive consolidations of 1995 – 1997 is nothing other than change,” he explains. “We often don’t like change but so what? It may be personal to us but to the people who implement change, it is not personal.”

Berger is quick to point out that we’ve been through change before: TV Guide gave way to cable and the newsstand distribution model is a far cry from what it used to be.

But he reminds us that the newsstand is not the be-all and end-all to magazine publishers, who are now firmly diversified and rarely rely on the newsstand alone for sustenance.

Instead, Berger looks to the future, recalling his recent attendance at the Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT7 conference in Oxford, Mississippi. There he met the newest crop of students at the University of Mississippi’s program headed by Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, and got a glimpse of the talent and passion entering the industry.

Distribution disruption? Digital challenges? All the other things that publishers face every day? They’ll all still be there for us to worry about. But for Berger, he sees the future in these kids. And he lays it on the line:

“After seeing these students, let me tell you, when it comes to the magazine business, everything’s gonna be all right. Just different. Very different.”