With a multitude of social networking sites that add millions of users per month, the common feeling is that everybody concerned has moved to the internet and its various social networks. The reality, though, is that the print media cannot be substituted instantly. There is still a lot of momentum left in the company. Critics may claim that, in addition to the Internet, technological applications that have provided get younger formats including e-readers, tablet PCs and the like will essentially signify the lack of print media. Truth, though, can lie elsewhere. It is a fascinating activity to research and try to extract information on this topic. Our goal is to shed light on this subject from various viewpoints on the business magazine.
Interesting statistics from the year 2010 point to a continued zeal and surge in the magazine business. Sample this: according to Samir Husni, who is the director of the Magazine Innovation center at The University of Mississippi, 68 new magazines were introduced in July 2010 (Brownberger 2010). The previous year, July 2009 saw the launch of 58 new titles. It appears that the industry is actually growing. Also one cannot go by merely launch figures. In the waiting rooms of executives, physicians, businessmen and politicians, several people routinely flip through a wide assortment of magazines as they wait for their appointments. There is hardly any statistics pertaining to the kind of readership prevalent in such situations.
Another perspective on the same argument is the transfer of the medium of publishing. According to a research report released by mediaIDEAS, the revenues from the digital medium are likely to overtake that of the print media (BoSacks 2010). The report’s Author David Renard states that digital products would contribute a larger share of the revenue within a decade. According to his estimates, digital would represent about 58% of the revenues by 2020 and print would reduce to about 33%.
Considering another interesting facet to the argument, Pimlott (2011) confidently states that the electronic media has actually increased the distribution of the simpler and ubiquitous form of communication – flyers, leaflets and pamphlets. It describes them as disposable literature and yet thoroughly endorses the evergreen existence of such newspapers. This statement may be applied to the magazine market. Magazines, too, are a disposable type of information. It is very obvious that any of the e-readers or netbooks or notebooks that act as a wireless news and entertainment portal cannot be easily disposed of. They come at a premium and have a major prestige benefit for the owner. As a consequence, these technology devices are likely to occupy a certain pride of position, and so people are likely to keep them hidden from physical newspapers and magazines of some type. In the one side, you’ve got disposable stale things like yesterday’s newspapers and this month’s magazine; on the other hand, you’ve got this electronics device. Obviously, they both deserve a certain kind of publicity.
Now we’re moving to the crux of our essay. It’s clear that magazines are going through a recession. Circulation figures have fallen owing to reduced take-offs from the supermarket shelf. In comparison, advertisement revenue has declined. That’s because a number of advertisers are stretched thin, are going out of blogs, putting up blinking posters, and targeting advertisements on a plethora of possible pages. They expect the target customers to be led from these websites to their products or services, which could be online or in the real world. In the other hand, publications certainly miss out on their advertisement sales. Therefore, their margin stresses are piling up. It is also possible that a variety of newly established magazines would be shut down within a year of operations.
We’re looking at all sides of the coin when examining the market. On the one hand, we have the goods and services of the industry, which in this situation is the publication and its contents; in the other hand, we have the consumers, the manufacturers and the rivals. As customers are declining and rivalry continues to increase, marginal pressures remain. In addition, the cost pressure of raw materials contributes to the load. A strong client base that would not want to stick to an ongoing subscription contributes to the industry’s issues. A few decades earlier, a lot of magazine names were used to produce reported annual subscription sales. That’s not the case now. Whenever buyers visit their adjacent supermarket store, they will practise their right to pick up a new magazine every single week. Variety has begun killing margins in the market.
Technology, a great enabler is also claimed to be the next big thing. It may be something from television on your mobile phone or tablet PC that enables you to place your company in your pocket; it encourages you to connect and aspires to perform all your regular activities for you, e-readers that digitise hundreds of books and other similar technological devices have unconsciously reached the magazine business. Content ultimately rules the business. It does not matter where the content resides. Now that content has moved to the internet and thenceforth to the e-readers and tablet PCs, customers find it easy and convenient to mix their business tasks with a dose of news and entertainment, all encapsulated in a single gadget. Tremendous advances in microprocessors and software have miniaturized these devices so that they can fit into pockets quite easily. Understandably, it is easier to carry an i-phone and have access to all types of content than carrying a couple of newspapers and magazines.
The second advantage of technology is the speed and versatility of access. You should have been somewhere in the world and yet access your favorite news channels and magazines. The internet, coupled with advances in telecommunications and microprocessors has made this possible. Earlier industries talked about technology, telecommunications and transportation, but they merely implied the process or product technology such as the manufacturing process, transportation in terms of the logistics and telecommunications in terms of phone calls. Now, the changes have been radical. Technology and telecommunications, to the current generation refer to the entire plethora of devices and applications which includes cell phones, internet and the available content. Meanwhile, it is quite clear that the magazine business would take a beating in the face of technological advances.
What kinds of magazines are actually losing out on business? The answer seems to be hinted by Gabriel (2009) when he states that magazines dealing with shelter, luxury and teens have been amongst those that closed down. Now we need to view this in the context of the global recession of 2008-2009 where these industries took the brunt of the slowdown. As the economy picks up momentum and businesses register profits, the magazine business is likely to grow again.
Ultimately it all boils down to consumption. Modern society with its emphasis on aesthetic gratification (Morris 2005) has merely stepped aside to sample something more versatile and simplistic: technology gadgets. Society has just attempted to substitute the print form for the digital one. What would actually drive business in the long run perhaps depends on the popularity and the ease of disposal of the media as was succinctly expressed by Pimlott (2011). For popularity, technology and the gadgets it spawns regularly would win hands down. Yet, when it comes to convenience and disposability, print media is clearly the undeclared winner.
In today’s society we are facing a surge in popular demand for celebrity news, images and videos that vividly entertain (Schlesinger 2006). Celebrities could belong to the realm of sportspersons, actors or rock musicians. All this colorful content comes onto the media in its full glory. To a certain extent, the print media does lose out here since it cannot capture videos and moving images. Digital media, on the other hand is able to do full justice to such content. However, if we consider business news and political news, is the use of color and glamour warranted? The answer is a bit hazy. Suffice it to say that the digital media does provide a substitute for the print version. Yet, in the long run, both would coexist. Margin pressures and technology are not likely to squeeze magazines out of business.
- BoSacks 2010, Print is not Dead, but Most of the Magazine Industry will be digital in 2020, 16 April, viewed 22 July 2011, <http://printceo.com/2010/04/magazine-industry-2020>
- Brownsberger, Kari 2010, Is The Magazine Industry Really Dying? 27 Aug, viewed 22 July 2011, < http://www.walkersands.com/Blog/is-the-magazine-industry-really-dying>
- Morris, Martin 2005, ‘Interpretability and social power, or, why postmodern advertising works’, Media, Culture and Society. Vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 697-718.
- Pimlott, Herbert 2011, ‘‘Eternal Ephemera’ or the durability of ‘disposable literature’: The power and persistence of print in an electronic world’ Media, Culture and Society, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 515-530.
- Schlesinger, Philip 2006, ‘Is there a crisis in British Journalism?’ Media, Culture and Society, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 299-307.
- Sherman, Gabriel 2009, The Magazine isn’t dying, 17 March, viewed 22 July 2011, <http://bx.businessweek.com/magazine-industry/>