30 July 2007

Good and Bad News for Print from Deloitte

An Advertising Age article, cited by Bob Sacks, contains some very good news for print magazines; but it also is spiced with a bit of foreboding. The piece ("Who Still Reads Magazines? Just About Everybody" by Brian Steinberg) reports on a study of media consumption by Deloitte Services' Technology, Media & Telecommunications group. The study reveals that while the various generational cohorts differ in their media use, they also show commonalities. And that's where we come to the print magazine category.
The survey reveals, according to Ad Age
Almost three-fourths of all consumers choose to read [magazines] even though they can find the same information online. There is also a greater receptivity overall to print ads compared with internet ads, the firm found.
But before we roll out a magazine industry campaign that trumpets this welcome finding, let's not neglect the article's conclusion:
Looking toward the future, Deloitte found that there appears to be significant demand for a portable, stand-alone device that consumers can use to view content as well as communicate with others.
Apparently, nearly 40% of the sample if, left to their own devices, would love to have their media content moved to their own devices.

27 July 2007

New portable, digital magazine medium

Texterity has released a new platform to access publications on your Apple iPhone (not my iPhone because I don’t care for one just yet), according to knowledgespeak.com (which covers the scientific, technical and medical (STM) publishing sector. The digital edition readers see emulates the magazine, as published. It’s a beta test and 20 publications are taking part and providing free iPhone editions of their mags.

The magazines, according to a Texterity press release are:

The American Lawyer, ALM Media

Baseline, Ziff Davis Media

Cabinet Maker, Watt Publishing Company

CIO Insight, Ziff Davis Media

Cottage Living, Time, Inc.

Craft, O'Reilly Media

eWEEK, Ziff Davis Media

Elite Traveler, Universal Media

ID Magazine, F+W Publications

Industry Week, Penton Media

Make, O'Reilly Media

Northern Home & Cottage, Prism Media

Oracle Magazine, Oracle Publishing

Popular Science, Bonnier Magazine Group

Quest Magazine, Quest Media

Quick & Simple, Hearst Corporation

Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Ready Made, Meredith Corporation

Statement Magazine, EJJ Publications

Taste of Home, Reiman Media Group

Telephony, Penton Media

Vibe, Vibe Media

WoodenBoat, WoodenBoat Publications

Knowledgespeak reports that Texterity’s iPhone interface uses “the company’s long-standing ‘browser-only format’ that does not require Flash or plug-ins to ensure broad compatibility and easy access.”

Several publishers quoted in the press release offer warm sentiments to the effect of “wowee, the iPhone owner is a great demographic and we want ‘em.”

The Texterity iPhone option is browsed — not downloaded. Still, it brings us closer to the day when the magazine as a portable, digital medium is the (pardon the expression) norm.

23 July 2007

From toys to mags…is it the new convergence?

Samir Husni, Mr. Magazine, offers the existence of two new magazines --- Barbie and Hot Wheels as proof that print has many days left. He says:
For anyone who still doubts the future of magazines, and print in general, here are two new magazines that were launched this year celebrating toys, yes toys…

So if a company invests money in an old technology, then that technology is safe? Putting the irrelevant premise aside, I too find joy in the ingenuity and vision people bring to the creation of new titles. The expanding universe of niches instills much awe. I still miss Yo-Yo World which, by the way, also was based on a toy.

21 July 2007

Magazine City

We know two things about the above photo.
  1. I should forget about photography as a career.
  2. The picture is a metaphor for the print magazine's downfall (and perhaps a snarky photo op).

16 July 2007

Kids to Print Media: Well . . . Duh

Some years ago, while at a magazine industry conference, I sat at a breakfast table with a bright young man who worked for a wholesaler.

“Within 15 years,” BYM said, there won’t be any newspapers.”

“Sure there will,” I said. “We just don’t know what form they’ll take.”

As it turns out we both may be proven right.

The New York Times reports that “Only 16 percent of the young adults surveyed aged 18 to 30 said that they read a newspaper every day and 9 percent of teenagers said that they did.”

This and a lot more depressing stuff comes out of a paper, “Young People and News” released by Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

While newspapers and, by extension, magazines (oh, say for instance Jane) matter less to that perpetually perplexing group known as “The Kids,” portable media do matter. When print magazines and newspapers finally go to that great parrot cage in the sky, their digital counterparts may well be going strong in whatever device takes its place beside the iPod and iPhone.

01 July 2007

Er-uh-excuse me. The ship is sinking.

Bob Sacks reports back from the Periodical and Book Association of America(PBAA) meeting. He and Samir Husni had a stimulating debate. There were some thoughtful and hope-inducing presentations. But there also was a shocking supply of self-destructive conventional wisdom. It was as if some industry people thought it okay to steer through the icebergs. Apparently there was a supply chain panel and a wholesaler told of a program that reduced inefficiencies. This was good; but another panelist dismissed the results by trotting out that old chestnut, "cut the draw and you cut the sales."
Sacks notes
Anyone that tells you there absolutely cannot be improvement in the print-ten-copies-and-sell-three model is leading you towards a big iceberg in an increasingly digitized sea. Get off now or get off later, it's your decision, but I guarantee you are getting off that ship or sinking with it.

I can attest to the self-delusional conventional wisdom that poisons the magazine publishing industry. In preparation for the launch of Magazine Retailer magazine, I asked a number of leading publishing people what information they thought I should deliver to retailers. They told me the following:
Since the magazine category is one of the most profitable in a retail store, they should know that they should devote more space to magazines.

I thought, thank you very much. I'm going to tell retailers what does and doesn't sell in their stores. That was just the first of the many quaint notions that it was my privilege to encounter. But jeez, I thought the "cut the draw" routine had gone to that great shredder in the sky.