Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

02/01/2015

A Declining Market for Printer and Publisher Alike? Maybe, Maybe Not – But Changes Are Afoot


Boy on Toilet Reading Paper - f5a5fe54-5e44-45c0-accd-0af459edc30aAll of us are biased in some way. Most of our biases come from two root causes: One, our need to make a living and provide for our loved ones and family. And two, our comfort zone – which is created by our upbringing and what we are familiar with or used to – like mom’s home cooking or our workplace routine and procedures.

So, when our way of making a living is disrupted in some manner or our workplace routine is changing due to, say, newer technology that threatens our very existence and forces change, our ‘biases’ kick in. These biases are deeper in some than others and actually prevent those affected from more immediate acceptance of needed changes.

These types of biases are prevalent in the publishing industry today.

Tonight’s research article comes from BoSacks of The Precision Media Group.

Key excerpt: ‘The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.’

 

BoSacks Speaks Out: The Answer to Publishing’s Enigma of Survival

All of us show bias when it comes to what information we take in. We typically focus on anything that agrees with the outcome we want – Noreena Hertz

 

Many of the people who read this newsletter are in one way or another devoted to the process of print. Some of them are printers, some of them are publishers and most of them have a strong and deep bias, which is clearly and understandably centered around making a profitable living. In fact, we all, regardless of what our profession is, have a biased point of view that is skewed by our need to make a living. In this discussion, I am not in any way saying a bias is wrong, just that it exists and aids us in forming our opinions.

Actually this bias comes twofold. Not only is it based on our need to make a living and feed the family, but also to be in our comfort zone. This comfort zone is, for the most part, like Mom’s cooking. By that I mean that the things we learned early when we were growing up are filled with a nostalgia that makes us feel most comfortable with what we knew and experienced then, something along the lines of Mom’s cooking. If you didn’t grow up in an internet era your comfort in it is less than the screenager who has never experienced lack of instant access to any and all information.

My friend Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. who is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism,

is filled with bias and exuberance about the printed magazine. He finds and counts every new magazine he can and declares the wonderfulness of the magazine business. His love and bias for the product is infectious and fun to watch. And it is the grand diversity of the ever diminishing magazine product that will continue to keep Samir and my printer friends busy for many years to come.

In fact most of my printer friends are doing quite well, even in an age where the printed magazine is in decline. And that is one of the main points of this essay. A fair and honest profit is still achievable in a greatly declining market for printer and publisher alike. I say bully for them that can continue to stay afloat and be at the top of their game when page counts are in a steady and predictable decline.

But, you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? The majority of the reading public is leaving print behind. Even major magazine media associations are focused on the digital future of making a profit from reading and not on the ways in which we operated in the past.

I have said many times that print and printed magazines are not going to go away, but their numbers will increasingly become smaller. I am starting to think that the very format of the magazine whether print or digital is also in decreasing demand by the public.

Five years into the venture of offering digital magazines, Next Issue Media’s Morgan Guenther, the company’s chief executive officer says, “No one has heard of us.” Guenther suggests that the number of subscribers is “well into the hundreds of thousands.” I am very suspect of that comment and wonder, how much of those are actually paid by the consumer and how much of the “hundreds of thousands” are sponsored? We don’t know. It is surely worth reporting that Next Issue just raised $50 million from the private equity firm KKR and is preparing for a big marketing push. This will perhaps help, but I expect the resulting numbers to be underwhelming.

It seems that the mobile platform is increasingly the platform of choice for most readers, and it will continue to alter the future of the magazine format. The magazine industry will by necessity sell their product by the single article and not by the curated group of reading materials as in the past. The single article sales platform will include audio, video and reading components once known as articles. It is possible to foresee subscriptions to total niches that include articles from multiple publishing sources and not the traditional magazine concept. This would align with formats like Google news, a listing of articles from multiple publishers offered as a one source shopping spot for news, entertainment, and instructional/enthusiast “articles”.

So, now back to the bias discussion. Is it possible that we publishers have a bias for the format of a traditional magazine? In the 21st century is it possible that curation of reading materials will be distributed in an other than the old-style magazine format? From my observations that seems to be a strongly developing trend.

Take your pick from Facebook to Buzzfeed, from Circa to Upworthy, from Printerest to the web pages of People and Time – these reading experiences are not formatted as traditional magazines. Facebook has a billion people reading without pagination as we understand it. There are indeed pages in those reading platforms, but not a single folio.

These observations do not in any way sound a death knell for print or for printed magazines. But they are a suggestion that the predominant way we will read and gather information is not only digital, but unhinged from the concept of continuous pages. Is it possible to imagine that, for the most part, the public’s reading will not be as our forefathers read?

The lineal, multi-article, traditional experience is changing to a non-lineal, three dimensional collection of editorial material organized by both humans and algorithms that change for the individual person by the second. Every editorial offering will be delivered as a unique and ever-changing personal assortment of information and entertainment. The only exception to these new rules of publishing will be books. They are exempt from this observation, as the book format demands traditional styled and numbered pages, be they print or digital.

 

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06/30/2011

The State of Magazine Publishing in 2011


Plum Hamptons magazine

What does the periodical publishing picture look like in the current economy thus far in 2011? Not too damn bad! (I have posted on the magazine comeback in previous posts). There have been 138 new launches versus 74 folds in 2011 according to online periodical database MediaFinder.

Most old, favorite mags were pulled from the jaws of extinction by their scramble to and gained expertise in digital production … including complex content and multi-media platforms … AND, believe it or not, the rapid popularity in the mags new online presentations has led to a rebirth of the print issues as well, including ad revenues … At least that’s my understanding of the smoke signals.

This from FOLIO Magazine by Stefanie Botelho:

As the publishing industry continues to recover from the economic recession, 138 magazines launched in the first half of 2011, according to online periodical database MediaFinder.

In the first half of 2010, only 90 new titles came to fruition.

The food and regional interest sectors boast the most launches, category-wise, in the first half of 2011, with new titles like Plum Hamptons hitting the market.

Some good news for b-to-b: 34 new titles launched in the first half, including Progressive Cattleman and Converting Quarterly, compared to 13 titles that folded, including Industrial Wastewater and Texas Construction.

Seventy-four titles closed in the top half of 2011, down from 86 closures in the same period in 2010. Although tied with the food sector for the most number of launches, the regional interest segment also saw the most magazine closures, including the closure of regional “luxe” 944 Media magazines in June.

Read and learn more

02/12/2011

Time, Inc. Tells Apple iPad: ‘Screw You!’


SI - Just one of Time, Inc.'s stable of mags

Did you realize that Time magazine, Inc. is the world’s largest mag company? I didn’t. But it does mean that they have some horsepower to go to war with Apple over iPad access mis-management (outrageous fees, controlling subscribers info, etc) for their own products as well as on behalf of  other magazine publishers.

Apple iPad might soon find their only mag & newspaper client is Rupert Murdoch’s new Daily…and readers can only read that on the iPad to the exclusion of all other eReaders…and there are MANY with more to come…what a trashing of customer base!

Please read my other posts RE Apple iPad access and apps on Writers Welcome Blog for more background on this sticky publishing intrigue. I have conveniently listed them consecutively here.

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.com has the latest on Time magazine’s blow-by-blow with Apple:

Time, Inc. Strikes Blows for Publishers in Standoff with Apple

For Time Inc., the world’s biggest magazine company, the quickest way to get it titles onto iPad screens may be getting them onto other tablets first.

While other publishers wrangle with Apple over the ins and outs of subscription sales in the iTunes store — How big a cut does Apple get to keep? Who gets control of the consumer’s information? Should the customer get to choose? — Time Inc. is moving ahead diagonally, making deals with the makers of other devices in hopes of gaining leverage in its negotiations with Apple.

Today, Sports Illustrated introduced an “All Access” subscription plan that will allow readers to pay one price to read the magazine in print, online, on Samsung Galaxy tablets and on Android phones. Although newspapers including The Wall Street Journal already offer such an option, SI is the first magazine to do so, according to managing editor Terry McDonell. The news comes just in time for the magazine’s swimsuit issue, its biggest annual seller.

“This is an important and fulfilling day because it marks the end of a very long march for us,” he said at a press conference. A combined print/digital subscription will cost $48 for one year or $4.99 a month; existing print subscribers will have free digital access for the remainder of their terms.

Read and learn more

12/05/2010

iPad Falling Behind in the “Savior of Publishing” Race – And Rightfully So!


Holy shitswowski! What’s going on with Apple and it’s stupid approach to putting up roadblocks to potential magazine and newspaper publishing clients in it’s iTunes Store RE handling of subscriptions?

Many popular magazine and newspaper iPad apps have already been developed to allow selling digital versions through Apple…AND the so-called Apple visionaries (idiots is more like it) are not allowing the personal information of subscribers to be accessed and managed by the content providers themselves!

Why? What is the purpose of this greedy hoarding? This should be a win-win situation for all parties to be more monetarily successful. The more direct use of personal demographic info will result in more targeted success for the newspaper and mag clients AND should result in more volume biz for the Apple iTunes Store.

Can someone with more insight than I explain this to me?

If Apple stays on this dumb course I think the popular mags and newspapers will take their business elsewhere. And where is that, you might ask? To the upcoming and surging Google and Android platforms, of course!

Also, Apple is demanding too damn much of a cut (30%) to allow the apps! Remember that great line from the New York gubernatorial campaign: The rent is too damn high!

Read these previous posts of mine for more background on this issue:

From this blog, Time Magazine is Unhappy with iPad Publishing

From Writers Thought for Today Blog, Publishers Becoming Wary of Apple

Here is a current little ditty on iPad News: Apple, Publishers Clash on Subscriptions from iPad.net :

The iPad has been looked upon as the “savior” of the publishing industry, but relations between Apple and major publishers have hit an impasse that may be insurmountable. If the two cannot agree on key issues, the publishers may be taking their business elsewhere.

We’ve been hearing rumors for months that iPad apps for numerous popular magazine and newspaper titles will become available for subscriptions at the iTunes Store. Now the reasons for the delay have surfaced. According to Peter Kafka at MediaMemo, Apple and the publishers are “still miles apart” when it comes to the terms for how to sell subscriptions.

Read and enjoy more

12/04/2010

Mag Publishers Branching Out


In order to save money, and also seek new revenue in non-traditional functions, magazine publishers are taking on related tasks usually contracted out to vendors. Actually they are strengthening their own vertical (business model) in-house capability.

These tasks include such things as launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, virtual events, databases, books, supplements and spinoffs…Afterall, if you’re going to branch out you might as well stick to your core business and who knows what a publisher needs more than a publisher?

This magazine publishing branch-out (or in-house vertical strengthening, as I like to call it) kind of reminds me of what writers (novel writers as well as others) have had to do to break loose from traditional publishing “slush piles” and non-action by learning and taking on more of the tasks performed by publishing houses in the past…This all was made more possible and easier through the new digital technology. Let’s all drink a scotch on the rocks to that!

Tony Silber and Matt Kinsman, reporting for FOLIO magazine, analyze it this way:

When Publishers Become Vendors

Dave Schankweiler, CEO and publisher of Journal Publications Inc., a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania regional publisher, remembers the day he became not just a publisher, but a vendor to publishers too.

Back in 2004, the company, which publishes the Central Penn Business Journal, Central Penn Parent, and NJ Biz, launched a new survey, called Best Companies in Pennsylvania. It used an outside survey firm to do the first report. The night the winners were presented was a huge success. “That night,” Schankweiler remembers, “it was loud, and there was a countdown and a lot of excitement. And that’s exactly when we decided to change the company, because we were coming down from the high of the event. We said, ‘Why don’t we take this out into the market and do it as a service to other publishing companies?’ ”

Magazine publishers are by nature entrepreneurial types. They like to tinker with their businesses. They’re incessantly launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, events, databases, books, supplements, spinoffs. But there aren’t a lot like Dave Schankweiler. Most media companies tend to stick to their knitting and limit their creative impulses to media products.

Some companies, though, are transforming themselves into a different kind of hybrid, media companies that have branched out into businesses traditionally occupied by publishing-industry vendors. Gulfstream Media, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based regional publisher is one. Gulfstream is the parent company of Magazine Manager, a popular ad-sales management software. UBM’s TechWeb is another. TechWeb created UBM Studios, which develops in-house virtual events for tech publisher UBM as well as for external clients.

Read and learn more

U.S News & World Report Abandons ‘print’ Ship!


A venerable old weekly print news mag (it was reduced to monthly in November 2008) is riding off into it’s last sunset (the last issue is this month)…

BUT, the U.S. News & World Report will re-appear in digital clothes with an expanded online edition that will appear 8 times per year and definitly include it’s famous “list” issues…you remember them: the best colleges, hospitals, etc.

Here is a great eulogy delivered by big fan Greg Brown of FOLIO magazine:

Right about now, you should be getting your last printed copy of U.S. News & World Report.

Sad, isn’t it? I grew up a fan of the old weekly. I was reading “Washington Whispers” while most of my high school friends were flipping through ratty comic books or talking about MTV.

I looked down a bit on Newsweek and Time as hopelessly sleepy, middle-of-the-road books. Reading USN&WR was like belonging to a club. An annoying, smarty-pants club. The closest thing to it, probably, was The Economist, and I wouldn’t geek out that much for another few years.

I won’t miss it.

Why? Well, because, frankly, I don’t miss it now. I haven’t subscribed in years. I am part of the problem: They had me young (the marketer’s dream) and now I’m in the thick of my earning years. Yet you won’t find U.S. News in my house. I read a few mags here and there, but not one “newsweekly.”

It’s simple really. If TV has become a form of Internet for the disconnected, then newsweeklies are even further behind the curve. I can’t read newspapers and print anymore. I read way, way too much online, all the time. Nearly anything and everything you care to print and mail to me, I have already seen, absorbed, and likely forgotten.

read and learn more

11/29/2010

The Magazine Publishing Research and Market Arena


Why are some magazines going bust and others are struggling just to stay alive AND STILL others are prospering?

Understanding the current industry trends and marketing to them (besides the obvious of possessing great content) could provide the answer…Which brings me to the purpose of this post: to introduce those of you who may not be aware of their existence to Research and Markets dot com.

Presented here is a sample of one of their reports:

2010 Magazine Publishing Industry Report

It’s no secret that the magazine publishing sector has been hit hard over the past couple of years. However, while some magazines have folded and some continue to limp along, others have prospered!

In this exclusive report, the first of its kind, the DirectMarketingIQ research team presents never-seen-before data and trend analysis about the magazine publishing industry acquisition and retention customer campaigns from the first half of 2010, 2009 and before.

The report highlights more than 120 magazines using direct mail intelligence gathered from the Who’s Mailing What Archive, the largest library of direct mail samples in the world. Detailed analysis on email magazine promotions was taken from the Email Campaign Archive – an online library tracking thousands of promotional emails every month.

Here are just a few of the takeaways you’ll learn:

The dominant magazine publishers – by market based on their direct mail and email volume

Read and learn more

11/04/2010

Publishing is Drowning in Ads!


Ads, ads, ads and more ads! We get bombarded with them everywhere! Not only in digital publishing, but in print, too. They are all over the place on the internet (hell, even on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary when you look up a word!) AND even on the covers of print magazines in the form of corner page-peels, belly bands, ad “windows” of varying sizes and false, glued-on covers and gatefolds#@*%?!

Now, I can understand a reasonable amount of ads to make up lost revenue due to faltering subscriptions, etc…BUT, damn, have a little consideration for the consumer.

My advice to advertisers: Don’t overplay your hand! Consumers are overwhelmed with legit data as it is, but the more ads they have to wade through just dilutes not only their effectiveness but the legit site content they are placed on gets a bad rap as well.

A good example of this conundrum is illustrated in this article by Jason Fell in FOLIO magazine:

Does This Cover Push the Ad/Edit Line Too Far?

I’ve seen my share of advertisements on magazine covers over the last couple years. I’ve seen corner page-peels, belly bands and ad “windows” of varying sizes. I’ve also seen false, glued-on covers and gatefolds.

Something like this, however, I haven’t seen.

The cover of the October 7 issue of Canon Communications’ EDN magazine [pictured top, left] features the EDN nameplate as it usually would, but the remaining two-thirds—which normally is devoted to editorial—is all advertising. The space is shared by an ad from a company called Avago Technologies and a corner page-peel ad from Digi-Key Corp (which also has a full-page ad inside the magazine).

Read and enjoy more

10/27/2010

E-Media Revenue Numbers – A Reality Check for Mags


Since the intro and explosion of digital media and publishing, how are the e-media revenues shaping up?

How are the profit margins changing?

What are the current realized earnings for small to large publishing firms now riding on the digital pony in the internet rodeo?

Well, for those who like charts and numbers (and interesting they are), I am presenting a great layout by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor, at FOLIO magazine:

Digital is the priority for most publishers, yet many executives have had to re-adjust their e-media forecasts just as they did with more traditional revenue streams such as print and events. Online ad spending in the U.S. dropped 5 percent to $5.5 billion in the first quarter of 2009 and 7 percent to $6.2 billion in the second quarter, according to market analyst IDC.

Digital revenue remains relatively small, despite massive percentage growth in recent years (and massive slumps in traditional revenue streams). “Those who have been aggressively pursuing digital will likely see it between 8 percent and 15 percent of the overall revenue mix,” Deborah Esayian, co-president of Emmis Interactive told FOLIO: recently.

Read and enjoy more

10/01/2010

The Association of Magazine Media


The main (and probably the oldest – est. 1919) professional association for magazine publishers is the Magazine Publishers of American (MPA).

Well, they have just changed their name to The Association of Magazine Media…which they still abbreviate or accronym as MPA?!

Why don’t they just use AMM for Association of Magazine Media?

The reasoning for the new name, they say, is to get away from the words “print” and “publishing” which they figure are dead to the younger generation.

What a cluster muck of thinking! For one, they are still publishers regardless of the media format and secondly, print is not going away (changing yes, but not dying); on the contrary new print tech is here and more surprises are coming in print media.

This report from Reuters by Robert MacMillan:

They’ll always be the Magazine Publishers of America to me

The Magazine Publishers of America said on Friday that it is renaming itself the MPA — The Association of Magazine Media. The notable difference is the omission of the word publishers. Why?

“MPA is underscoring the fact that magazine media content engages consumers globally across multiple platforms, including websites, tablets, smartphones, books, live events and more.”

“More” presumably means “printed magazines,” but nobody in media is all that hot on associating themselves with words like “publish” and “print” because to young people (or young “consumers” in the parlance that people use when their sole desire is to make money from you) and investors those words smell like death.

When magazine publishers like Conde Nast and newspaper publishers like Advance Publications (like Conde Nast, owned by the Newhouses) have been forced to cut hundreds if not thousands of jobs and stop publishing some of their products, it doesn’t do much good in the public relations department to accentuate the part of your business that is fading, even if it still produces 80 to 90 percent of your revenue. Fortunately, Time Inc CEO and incoming MPA Chairman Jack Griffin manages to refer in passing to “print” one time in the press release quote.

Read more http://alturl.com/d6zrd

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