Are magazine launches turning to $9.00 a pop “one-night stands?”November 2, 2009
Here are the facts: almost 100 new magazines were launched in the month of October. Those magazines covered every single topic you can imagine. From Best Loved Casseroles to Yoga for beginners; from Angels and Miracles to Hollywood Hair; from Fast Fitness to Men Fetish; and Woodworking for Your Home to Greatest Aviation Photos. Who would have thought that new magazines would be flooding the market place during one of the worst economic times of all time. Magazine closures are announced almost daily and media critics have written magazine obituaries time and time again.
So, what gives? That is what makes my business of collecting and tracking magazine launches interesting. It is like swimming against the current, something I have learned from my professors of journalism who taught me what real journalism is all about: swimming against the current and never accepting the status quo as the be all end all status. And, I am not alone. Folks who are willing to launch a New Awareness magazine “all over the world” six times a year, or those who are re-introducing Tinker Bell as a bimonthly magazine, or even those who publish a Resistance, the journal of the Earth Liberation Movement or JM magazine (Just Models) are all swimming against the current.
However, as I look and count my October collection of new magazines, the figures amazes me: a whopping 99 titles that I was able to find on the nation’s newsstands for the first time. But wait, as they say in the info-mercials, there is more to the story. I have noticed a huge increase in the number of specials and one shots flooding the market place. In fact, of the 99 new titles, 87 were specials with an average cover price of $8.66. I spend almost a $753.62 on those new titles.
When you hear the stories about how crowded the newsstands are and how the sales of the audited ABC titles are slipping, do you ever stop and ask yourself what impact those specials are creating for the marketplace. Mind you that most of these specials are not coming from small publishers or individual entrepreneurs who are trying to find a foot hold in the marketplace. These are coming from big publishers such as Time Inc., Reader’s Digest Association, Taunton Press, Meredith, etc. You get the picture.
So what is one to say about this phenomenon of specials and one shots? Is it the future of magazine publishing? Is this where the future of print is going to be? Well, I have always said that magazine publishing is all about relationships. In my book there are three types of relationships: the one night stand, the love affair and the long lasting partnership. To me those specials are like those one night stand affairs. They do not create an addictive relationship that people will come back for more. It is a one time occurrence that ends with the end of the experience itself.
If we are going to ensure a bright and healthy future for our industry, maybe that is one place we need to take a look at. We need to stop the one night stands and start creating magazines that will introduce our readers and customers to love affairs and long lasting relationships. One night stands will not do it.
Once again, I am back on my soap box preaching the importance of creating print that is worth keeping, repeating and engaging. We should be in the business of long lasting relationships if we are going to survive the future. The band-aids we are using today will not stop the bleeding, and if we can’t survive our present, do you really think the future will matter?