Print publishing is dead but niche magazines say otherwise
Similar to newspapers, magazines have faced a substantial decline in subscription and readership over the years. Many even draw a dire scenario, saying print publishing is dead, given that most readers have embraced the digital format.
In 2014, an overall 14 percent plunge in magazine sales was recorded by analysts from Pew Research Center. The following year, figures from the Magazine Information Network, otherwise called MagNet, discovered that sales plummeted to another 14.2 percent in the US.
The decline is an effect of increased cover prices and the decreasing sales in newsstands—though it only covers a small percentage of the magazine’s print circulation. But Pew admits that it imposes an important barometer of a magazine’s editorial appeal which is not manipulated by promotions and discounts. Magazines that suffered great losses include The Week with a 24 percent decline in newsstand sales while The New Republic went down 20 percent in 2014, says the study. The Media Briefing article even brought up how magazines have become unable to function without a boost from famous celebrities in their covers.
Then there are those that did not make it. A blog revealed that titles like the Spin and The Face have already disappeared from the newsstands. When everyone else have moved on to other ventures perhaps or disappeared altogether, how have these magazine survivors continued and even flourished?
Print is not exactly dead, says the author of Print is Dead. Long Live Print, Ruth Jamieson. “The whole ‘Is print dead?’ question has been knocking around for a while now. Digital people say it is dead. Print people say it isn’t. I wanted to change the record and say, yes, a certain kind of print is dead or dying,” she says.
Jamieson explains that publishing millions of copies does not equate to success. However, it is possible to succeed by nailing a specific type of concept as evidenced in niche magazines. These magazines exercise a unique concept of targeting a specific kind of audience and their makers’ creativity boosts their appeal within their target audience.
Niche magazines, despite the deteriorating audience for print, have managed to stay in the business—quite a statement in the industry.
For instance, Make, the “Martha Stewart” magazine for geeks, is a do-it-yourself magazine for technology buffs. Costing $29.95 for five issues, the news magazine provides a mixture of fun, simple and practical projects per issue. The Capitol File circulates 50,000 issues with topics that cover everything that is happening in Washington, D.C.— people, culture, fashion, and philanthropy. Monocle publishes 12 issues and circulates about 13,000 copies which cover international news by sending writers and photographs to over 50 countries.
Since niche magazines have survived the failing market for print publishing, mobile publishers who want to survive the stiff competition on online reader engagement can take a thing or two from what these niche magazines have done and achieved.
One thing about niche magazines is that they continue to sustain the specific interests of readers who are willing to pay for subscription. Luckily, some mobile brands have perfected reader engagement through studying user’s online behaviors, such as what topics they prefer and sites they visit. This gives publishers’ the overall idea what type of content publishers and brands should produce, thus being able to capture online reader’s interest
“Our entire business model is built on engagement. We are already in a position today where we can prove that we outperform any existing publishing model in terms of engagement as measured by time spent inside our app, screens read per user, click rates on content, etc. And, in several cases, we outperform the current industry standard by a factor of 15-30 times,” said Born2Investfounder and CEO, Dom Einhorn.
The mobile business news app is a product launched into popularity by M6 Limited’s marketing expertise and ability to let publishers stay ahead in this mobile-driven era. Born2Invest is a mobile news app that carefully curates business and news app to effective 80-word news summaries. Launched in September 2015, the mobile news app has already earned more than 80,000 monthly active users on average and delivers news in 169 countries across the globe.
Still, while print-only publishing or mobile only publishing does not work in today’s modern driven society where they consume time-sensitive information on mobile, the key to survival is penetrating both medium of publishing— print and digital formats.
TV Choice Magazine in the UK, despite failing weekly sales, managed to make it big in print with a circulation of about 1.2 million. It also keeps an online version of its issues with an interactive website. The Vogue.co.uk has about two million unique users with the almost same number of followers on Twitter and Facebook, according to figures from ABC.
In an age where print is no longer the primary medium where people consume everyday information, it is important for publishers to utilize available resources to be able to adapt to the dynamic interests of consumers. In the same way that those publishers who wish to dominate in print-publishing, should analyze the topics and issues that interest readers.