Monetizing the Archives of America’s Oldest Magazine Brands

[responsive]Harpers_weekly_1897[/responsive]Publishers are becoming increasingly savvy in understanding the value of their archival content. Michael Rondon of Folio: gives a good overview of a few titles that are leveraging the past in their current business models.

“As the oldest continuously published magazine in the country, Scientific American‘s content database has original reporting on inventions like Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone and Thomas Edison’s lightbulb,” Rondon writes, explaining that opened its archives to the public via a yearly access charge this year. And now the public can have access to this entire body of work.

According to Chris Dorbandt of Scientific American, the $99 annual fee is a good deal.

“We’re rewarding our brand loyalists with exceptional value because we believe this is a lifetime product with concern to our content.”

With close to 2,000 issues in its digital archives, Harper’s Weekly is another title making hay with archives.

“The brand only offers one subscription bundle ($39.99/1 year; $49.99/2 years), so every paying reader gets full archive access along with current print and digital products,” notes Rondon. The Nation, Vogue and The Atlantic all offer some variation on the theme. The Nation in particular is doing a good job of marketing the idea.

“It stands out for how it’s making use of that content in the present day though,” Rondon notes. “The magazine launched ‘Back Issues’ in May—a blog that mixes original reporting of major historical events with retrospective looks at how those stories developed in real time. Hindsight serves up some interesting nuggets.”

Indeed it does, and what’s old again is new again as they say. Nice to see publishers embracing the value and beauty of their body of work like this.