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What Recession? New Magazine Launches Up, Up, Up

March 29, 2009

twenty-three11What do Disney Twenty-Three, Dirt Rag Bicycle Times, and Big Man have in common? They are but three new magazines published in the midst of the worst economic times we’ve seen in our lifetime. However, when in comes to new magazine launches last month, the numbers beg the question What Recession? bicycletimes1181 new titles appeared for the first time on the nation’s newsstands in February (the best February yet) despite all the problems with the wholesalers and distribution channels. In one way or another those magazines found their way to the retailers and offered readers options to buy one out of 30 magazines published at least four times a year, one with a twice a year frequency, four annuals and 46 specials or book-a-zines.
big-man11When I announced earlier this month my intentions to create the Magazine Innovation Center this coming August, I knew that, despite the prophets of doom and gloom, that there is still a long long life for print both in the magazine and newspaper business and that the end is not near. The host of new magazines being published now are not but a case-in-point that we are not dead, but rather our publishing model is. Take Disney Twenty-Three magazine (named after the founding of Disney in 1923). The over-sized 64-pages quarterly aimed at the D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans sells for $15.95 and quotes Walt Disney on its back cover saying, “It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.” Yes indeed.
purposedrivenconnection1Another case-in-point is the Purpose Driven Connection magazine published by the Reader’s Digest Association. The quarterly sells for $9.99 and offers readers a 144-page magazine, a DVD and a Six-Session Video-Based Study Guide for Small Groups taught by the Rev. Rick Warren.
The aforementioned magazines are produced with an “outside the box” run-of-the-mill publishing model. Both have “membership” as a base for that publishing model. Remember the “good ol’ days” when National Geographic will not give you a subscription to its flag ship magazine unless someone nominated you for membership in the Society? Innovation does not mean that we have to come up with ideas that have never been tried before. Innovation means to stop, think and find ways to enhance and add to the power of print and its abilities. Innovation means to stop acting in a state of panic. We have to take time off, to think and to do “publishing” in a different way that we’ve done for years.
Take a look at some of the new launches and spread the word: Print is NOT dead, it is the publishing model that died last September. Let us work on finding a new model. Let us INNOVATE.
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10 comments

  1. Cool!


  2. Completely agree Samir.

    We have been saying for ages that the number of magazine launches is rising. While we are not going off any official stats, this is on the basis of being at the front lines and getting more and more calls from niche publishers wanting advice on distributing their new title. It may be happening occassionaly at the bigger end of the publishing world, but it is at the grass roots small end of the industry that we have really felt this explosion.

    Print is far from dead. In fact, the growth of online has allowed tiny niche interest communities to aggregate across borders and produce targeted print publications where it was previously impossible to do so.


  3. BoSacks Speaks Out:
    Samir: Your latest posting has me totally dismayed. I’m not sure if it is your abundant enthusiasm despite the evident reality of the situation or the total disregard for the fear of the rest of the industry. 20% of my friends are unemployed and the rest live on in daily and rational paranoia that they will be out of work tomorrow.

    You and I both agree that print is not going to die and, in fact, it will have a nice and very long path to retirement.

    I think that it is fantastic that you track all the entrepreneur publishers, and that you don’t create a statistic until you have a printed copy in your hands. That is very commendable. But the number of new titles does not actually reflect the health of the industry as a whole. It only reflects one very small portion of the whole. There are 28,000 printed magazines out there. By your data 2.5% were new print titles. But it’s not the quantity of new titles published that is important; it’s the sustainability. Do you track how many of those titles actually survive? What is the survival trend of the titles you track? Is it a rising or falling trend? That would be very important data to consider before you declare that there is no recession for our industry.

    Everybody wants to be a publisher, so it never surprises me that there are always hundreds of new titles. But your numbers are deceptive to a realistic forecast as to where the industry is to date and what the actual trends are. The trends, despite the numbers you post, are awful.

    We are in a serious recession. We will recover. But the print-on-paper business model is totally broken and when we do recover, it will be with a new set of rules and new business plans that we will enable print to survive. But the data you present below is irrelevant to the overall current reality that the industry is facing today.

    When we recover, print will be one of many ways to distribute information. And the niche printed product will be around for many generations. Some of my friends who own printing plants will prosper and do very well. But printed products must share the dwindling advertising wealth with a multitude of new competitors. These competitors are very young, but also extremely robust. They grow every day and become better than they were yesterday. In the new publishing world, the digital page can do a dozen things the printed page can’t do. The digital page should be respected and maybe feared, because whatever it can do today will be greatly improved tomorrow. To expect future generations of screenagers to be totally satisfied with printed products is like expecting the BlackBerry users of today to start writing letters with quill pens and using human messengers instead of IMs. We are not going back; we as an industry are going forward. It’s not the substrate that is important; it is the words with which we communicate.

    Samir, I look forward to our next public debate.


    • My dear Bob
      I guess this time you’ve missed the entire jest of the entry. If you re-read what I wrote you will find that what I am saying is that new magazines continue to appear on the market place as if there is no recession…some of those magazines are coming from the 20% of your friends who lost their jobs at the big media companies… Bob, this is the best time for us to stop, think and innovate, rather than just reacting to a state of panic. I welcome your comments as usual and I look forward to our next public debate…
      All the best
      Samir


  4. I agree about the need for innovation and I also agree that once in while, thinking is a good thing.

    There will always be people who wish to be publishers, and that means that there will always be new magazines. I am one of those people who have started many magazines. Some are still being published, and some not. It is always great to see new members entering the prestigious world of publishing.
    I do think that the number of new titles more correctly reflects enthusiasm and not necessarily sustainability and pulse of the industry. Will there be another Fortune Magazine in this crop of new comers . . . perhaps.


  5. [...] month was the best February yet for magazine launches, according to Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine. In a recent blog entry, he reports: “81 new titles appeared for the first time on the nation’s newsstands in [...]


  6. I think it’s great that new magazines are being launched. Everyone predicted that the internet would be the end of magazines and not this economic climate and that has so far proved false.


  7. [...] of 2008, in the US, 150 new magazines were introduced to the market, while an article entitled What Recession? New Magazine Launches Up, Up, Up discuses how magazines are still thriving during the global financial crisis: “What do Disney [...]


  8. ill be one of many ways to distribute information. And the niche printed product will be around for many generations. Some of my friends who own printing plants will prosper and do very well. But printed products must share the dwindling advertising wealth with a multitude of new competitors. These competitors are very young, but also extremely robust. They grow every day and become better than they were yesterday. In the new publishing world, the digital page can do a dozen things the printed page can’t do. The digital page should be respected and maybe feared, because whatever it can do today will be greatly improved tomorrow.


  9. [...] February 2008 and 35 in February 2007.  Husni himself promotes the February numbers in his blog as proof that “print is not dead” and he is something of a fixture in the magazine trade press (including [...]



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