Thanks to niche publishing, print won’t die just yet
In a time when everyone and everything seem to have gone digital, it’s easier to think that print media is near its demise. Although there’s a truth in print industry’s struggle to keep up with the changing media milieu, it is far from being totally non-existent and dead.
Books, as reported by Deloitte, showed significant growth in sales as eBook revenues slightly plummeted in Canada and the U.S. last year. According to Print is Big, a leading traditional media advocate, print is continuously enjoying a renaissance of increased conversion rates and marketing return on investment in the last decade, showing no signs of a forthcoming end as most people claim and think. Pew Research Center, while revealing that print is no longer as big as it was in the past, is showing slight gains due to print outfits’ shift to digital.
The print industry is hurting. However, a lot of publishers are still convinced that there’s no point in abandoning the traditional way just because everything is now online. Many print-focused entrepreneurs, both startup and established, have found salvation in niche publishing.
Niche publishing, or publishing for a very specific and defined audience, is highly content-focused. And this is what makes them different from established magazines and most digital content producers. They write about a very specific topic for a carefully defined segment. Meaning to say: “minimalist American interior design” instead of just “interior design” or “local American garage rock” instead of simply “US rock.”
Such careful attention to niche and target audience’s needs has also made them popular on crowdsourcing platforms. Since would-be donors know that they’re helping a content producer that would cater to their real needs as soon the magazine/book goes live, convincing them to give is easier. In fact, The Media Briefing stated, one can blame it on crowdsourcing why niche publishing is now a growing trend in the U.S.
Another factor behind the resurgence is niche publishers’ adherence to quality, both in content and printing respects. “Yes, the amount of printed material has gone down, but the percentage of quality to crap is higher than ever. By choosing to do something in print, you’re saying this thing is worth a damn, this thing is worth going through all this hassle,” said Chris Lauritzen, a former YouTube employee who decided to reprint Edwin Abbot’s cult classic Flatland. Indeed, if there’s something good that came out of dwindling print popularity is the revalidation of printed books and magazines as an art form and a quality source of content.
The trend has become big to an extent that it’s hard not to notice. Dom Einhorn, CEO of digital marketing company M6 Limited, the company behind the fast-rising business news curation app Born2Invest, said that niche publishing in the digital world is slowly making its way to becoming a trend, too. “Even digital news curators are becoming niche-conscious these days. Isn’t that the essence of content marketing—bringing the story to a specific audience?” he said.
Many newspapers—the biggest of which are the Financial Times and The Daily Mail—are up for a challenge to prove that print is far from extinction. Through niche publishing, or by simply retaining a print version of a specific section for a “very particular” audience, they continue to become relevant to people who are yet to embrace or are still naysayers of digital media. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, for instance, is printing exclusively for its lifestyle, food, entertainment, and other human-interesting stories for specific subscribers and several advertisers. And, according to Paul Kasbohm, its chief revenue officer, there’s no reason to discontinue such a marketing strategy that doesn’t only work efficiently but highly lucrative, too.
So is niche publishing the future of print? Yes and maybe. Yes, if it manages to show that it can continue to serve the growing and changing needs of the readers, and maybe, as it is early to say now since the so-called trend has just begun.