Have Publishers Really Gone “Boutique”?

Niche titles – some look at them and see “trend,” a current title-du-jour that hopes to engage a passing fancy or current rage. Others look at this increasingly popular style of the magazine and see an important part of the future – and past – of the magazine industry.

In the second camp is Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, who takes issue with the folks talking about special interest publishing as the latest “boutique” trend.

As Husni assures us in his blog, “there is nothing about being niche or a special interest magazine that hasn’t always been around.

“We’ve always had special interest magazines right along with the general interest ones. And we’ve always had titles that reflected very specific topics, such as: cars, music, history, celebrities; you name it, because after all, magazines have always been, in my book, the best reflectors of our society, and they always will be,” Husni insists.

He gives quite an interesting list of niche titles going back several years that would make the case that this is not, in fact, a current trend but a traditional type of magazine publishing. Indeed, what we are seeing now, as the industry continues to swing from mass market toward niche, is more of a reflection of current attitudes and preferences than an industry-driven decision.

“Just in these past couple of weeks, I came across a host of new magazines that are truly nothing but a reflector of our present day society,” Husni explains. “And that’s our society as a whole, because as the global magazine network starts to take shape, magazines are being published in France, printed in the Netherlands, and distributed in the United States. And the topics are as targeted and trend-worthy as they have ever been.”

Why so much love for the indie? As we’ve said before, it comes down to an unflinching and passionate focus on the reader relationship. Consumers’ digital behavior has taught us that readers want to be in control – they are self-selecting their experiences on every level, and magazines are no exception. It’s not that they are following the latest trend; rather, they are choosing products that reflect their lifestyle and their aspirations.

Niche publishers take this into account, seeking not to engage on a mass scale, but on a highly relevant one. The result?  A beautiful explosion of niche titles. Call it what you like; we call it sound publishing practice.