What Recession? New Magazine Launches Up, Up, UpMarch 29, 2009
What 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? 81 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.
When 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.
Another 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.