The Future of the Magazine

The Future of the Magazine

“Ad sales are falling, editors are going digital, employing online applications that can increase revenue. But it’s a tough fight against a free Internet.” So says the headline from The Globe and Mail’s wonderful summary article of what’s been going on in the magazine industry (media industry) over the past year. It’s a good read for those interested in the business. Some interesting paragraphs from the story:

“Magazines are hardly leaping out at media buyers these days. The industry has been walloped by falling sales: In the first nine months of 2009, magazine ad pages in the U.S. dropped 27 per cent from the same period last year, and revenues were down 20 per cent, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. The Canadian magazine industry fared slightly better, but ad pages still dropped 21 per cent from January to September of this year, according to Nielsen LNA.”

But, “many recession-weary readers would rather troll the Internet for free than curl up with yet another discretionary expense, magazines have to reckon with the digital age, and make it profitable.

“Last week, five of the largest magazine publishers in the U.S. announced they were joining forces to create a “digital storefront” to make it easier for consumers to buy issues of their magazines for download onto laptop computers, smart phones and e-readers. The venture includes Condé Nast, Meredith Corp., News Corp., Time Inc. and Hearst Corp., which publishes Esquire. As part of the announcement, Time Warner’s magazine Sports Illustrated released a video showing what its issue might look like on a full colour e-reader tablet, such as the one that is rumoured to be in the works at Apple.”

A stat from the story: “In the first six months of 2009, of the nearly 600 consumer magazines in U.S. and Canada to report such figures, 67 per cent saw their paid circulation drop from the same period last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Even the most successful magazines are struggling. Of the top 25 U.S. titles, 60 per cent were down this year. A similar proportion of top Canadian magazines saw declines.”

An update: Apple’s rumored tablet computer could be coming sooner than expected.