What’s Different About Magazines Today

Organic-LifeLast week we mentioned Mr. Magazine’s launch monitor, citing 69 new titles (recurring and specialty) that launched in March. And April is looking to be an even more exciting, with “a flurry of new launches” according to Keith J. Kelly in the New York Post.

“On April 13, Maria Rodale unveils the first issue of Rodale’s Organic Life,” Kelly writes. “She is gambling that she can take the subscription base from one of the company’s original titles, Organic Gardening, and turn it into a lifestyle title appealing to a younger audience.”

This idea of creating lifestyle titles is huge in our industry right now, and reflects the growing popularity and early success of highly specialized niche magazines that would have been impossible not very long ago when mass market titles reigned supreme.

One thing many of these niche titles have in common—aside from quality content and production with a specific appeal to their narrower audience—is a business model far less reliant on paid ads.

Kelly cites Smithsonian Journeys as one such title. Designed to appeal to the “cultural traveler,” Steve Giannetti, chief revenue officer of Smithsonian Media, said the magazine will print 150,000 for its premier run, with a hefty $13.99 cover price in the newsstands.

“While he is selling ads — there are 10 in the debut issue — he is banking on circulation revenue to be the driver,” Kelly notes.

These savvy publishers are taking advantage of print’s ability to position itself as a luxury product, at a time when mass communications are going more digital. Far more than a cheap impulse buy at the register, these titles are written and produced in such a way that they become an event in and of themselves. The content is worth purchasing for these highly-interested readers, and thus the ads can take a back seat.

It’s a beautiful direction for these publishers to take, and one that readers do seem to be supporting.