What’s Really Going on with Magazines?

mags2015“It’s like a membership card you receive once a week, or month.” ~ Samir Husni, on the appeal of print magazines.

In all the debate about digital versus print, there is a growing realization that digital content does not a magazine make.

It sounds too simplistic when you lay it out like this. But that’s the reality.

Tech blogger Lloyd Alter asks in Mother Nature News writes, “…are magazines, like books and bookstores, making a comeback? It appears that new magazines are being launched these days, and ironically, many of them are spinoffs from websites.”

Alter quotes several names in the industry who discuss the future of print, including our friend Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni who writes extensively on the topic. It seems those who jumped from print to digital are regretting it.

“Print is the faithful spouse. Ninety-five percent of the money is in print,” Husni states.

So print didn’t die; that is a given. Will it grow? We think the time is right for that.

Given the recent digital advertising implosion, advertisers are disenchanted with their returns on digital investments. They seek real connection and engagement and, for many of them, print offers this in a way digital simply can’t.

“…on the Web, ads are usually intrusive and more and more of them are blocked,” Alter continues. “In a print magazine, they become content. That’s why people will happily pay for an issue of Vogue that has twice as many ad pages as content. If a website tried that, it would be a disaster.”

We are seeing the truth of that statement as consumers run from ad bloat and publishers scramble to address the mess.

Alter has seen this show from the inside out.

“I used to be president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and started an online version of its magazine, the Acorn; I wanted to kill the print edition because of its printing and mailing cost, but members let me know in short order that they belonged to the ACO to get the magazine,” he says.

We hear this all the time. Digital seemed like a cheaper alternative to magazines, but the readers felt otherwise.

While the mass title market has changed, as consumers demand more tightly targeted content, the field is wide open for niche titles that know what their audience wants. This is the reality of magazines as we head into 2016.