What is wrong with this picture? Earlier this month I received the following press release from the folks at Hallmark magazine:
Hallmark Magazine’s February/March ’09 issue, on newsstands beginning today, is up 53% in paging and 37% in revenue when compared with the same 2008 issue. Those numbers are not typos. In this economy, when many publishers are managing layoffs, cutbacks and advertising discounts, Hallmark Magazine’s Carol Campbell Boggs continues to leverage the power of the Hallmark halo to tremendous effect.
New advertisers in the February/March issue include: Pfizer, Sony, Novartis and PBS with new business from P&G, GSK and Hormel. The issue also represents the first with the rate base increase to 800,000 — a 100% increase since the magazine’s fall 2006 launch. This sustained growth is certainly cause for celebration within Hallmark; it’s also a marked success in the publishing industry during a time of major transition.
And, as indicated in the 2008 year-end PIB report, Hallmark Magazine is one of the few to finish the year ahead – and one of only a handful of magazines enjoying double-digit growth!
Today I received the news that Hallmark magazine is no longer going to be published. Folio magazine quoted Hallmark president and CEO Donald J. Hall Jr., saying that
“the decision to stop publishing the magazine was reached after a “comprehensive analysis” of the overall magazine industry.
“Despite favorable consumer acceptance of the publication, we cannot justify continued investment in the magazine at a time when we must focus our efforts and resources only on those projects that will lead to long-term profitable revenue growth for the company,” he said.
The magazine’s 28 employees have been laid off, the company said. In addition, 10 Kansas City, Missouri-based positions in the company’s creative division will be eliminated.
How on earth can you justify a magazine that is growing both in advertising and circulation is being shuttered? Very simple, it means that the magazine was not making any money from circulation and at the same time it brings to question the revenues coming from advertising. Is it heavy discounts or give-a-ways? Who knows? One thing I know for sure is that the American publishing model is DEAD. It is time to reinvent the publishing model. It is time to charge the readers the price of the magazines. It is time for innovation in print and in the American publishing model. Stop giving away your pages and your content on a silver platter with no real price. Now is the time for change. A change that will not take us from print to the web, but rather a change that will create a new publishing model incorporating both print and the web. A model that uses content and the concept of selling content as its basic corner stone. We MUST stopping giving our content and our pages for free or close to free. It is a shame (I can’t think of any other word) when a successful (or so we were told a few weeks ago) magazine like Hallmark is forced to shut down. We need to search for a cure for the ills of our industry. Every venue is sick. An over the counter medicine is not going to be enough. Our illnesses are grave, but they are not terminal if we innovate. We have to invent new medicines to cure the ills of our industry, all venues of our industry. The publishing model, the distribution model, the pricing model and the staffing model. We have to innovate and to create new ways of doing publishing. If we claim to be creative people (journalists, marketers, analysts, designers) now is the time to put our money where our mouth is.
In the next few days, I will be taking the first humble step toward the formation of a new center dealing with magazine and print innovation. The center will be called Magazine Innovation Center (MIC) and will focus on amplifying the future of print. I will need all the help that I can get from all the folks in our industry, here and abroad. We need to innovate. We need to create and be creative. Stay tuned for more details later.