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The future of magazines March 7, 2007

Posted by Charley S in Internet, Manufacturing, media.


This article in BusinessWeek describes the trend right now of how printable magazines are moving from print to online content.  The current way that magazines are distributed is extremely wasteful; over 50% of the magazines printed are not read at all and are either trashed or recycled immediately.  In addition, despite the launch of hundreds of new magazines each year the overall consumption of magazines in America remains constant.  New magazines are finding it harder and harder to remain profitable, even though many are extremely innovative and win all sorts of awards.  Many publishing companies are trying to milk the paper magazine while it still lasts by changing from a monthly to a weekly schedule, which quadruples the potential revenue from advertising.  Still, the trend to have all online magazines is unstoppable and eventually you will only be able to view magazines online.  To establish themselves to take advantage of this new trend, publishers will have to gain a new set of core competencies like internet website designers and graphic artists.  Publishers will have to combine these new people with the traditional magazine workers to make sure that they are profitable in the future.

Another topic that is touched on in this article is the issue of smaller magazines that may only have as few as 1,000 subscribers.  The author of this article contends that these smaller magazines will still remain in print because the people that read these types of magazines are very interested and committed to the magazine.  I desagree with the author because I think that costs will increase too much for small magazines to remain printed.  As the big publishers move to new online distribution methods, the old printers of magazines will either go out of business or will be forced to increase prices to remain in business.  Therefore, small magazines will not have the same number of printers to use  because in affect the large publishers were subsidizing the smaller magazines. 



1. Kira - March 7, 2007

With everything online these days it does not surprise me that it is likely we will just be able to view magazines online in the near future. As far as our environment goes this is a great idea because a lot of waste and litter will be eliminated. However, I personally would not like to read a magazine online. I like reading magazines at the gym, on the couch, or when I am traveling.
I found this article to be very interesting because my first choice for a summer internship is with a large magazine publisher. I am curious to see how this is affecting them and if they are developing new core competencies in response.

2. collage9 - March 7, 2007

I agree with you in the fact that one day most magazines will only be found online. I also agree with Kira that it would be a big help to our environment not to waste all of that paper. But personally, I don’t think I would like to see this happen. I’ll admit that I am reading things online a lot more than on paper, but I think it would be pretty annoying to be forced to have to go online to read magazines. I think actually having a magazine would be much more convenient than always having to have access to a computer to read them.

3. Lady - March 14, 2007

I agree that online magazines are posing a threat to the future of printed magazines. However, I don’t believe that online magazines could ever completely take over. There are a number of reasons for this; I will just list a few.

First, it is obvious that technology is evitable to fail at some point in time. How upsetting would it be if your internect connection wasn’t working and you needed to read your magazine? Or what if the magazine was having problems with their technology and somehow couldn’t provide the online service for people who have paid for subcriptions? This would NOT be good for business.

One other reason would be that not everyone can afford to have internet access. If printed magazines were taken off the market, magazine companies might lose the revenue that those consumers were contributing to printed magazines and they would not be able to gain it back.

4. Elaine - March 19, 2007

Our very own newspaper the Bucknellian is looking for a system to put our entire newspaper online for subscribed parents/alumni to read from. This is a very likely possibility in the near future even within our own bubble. I am not the least surprised that most companies will eventually move towards this technological change.

5. Meg - March 21, 2007

Most magazines are actually found online today. You can go to any magazine’s website like people.com or sportsillustrated.com and see the exact articles that you would see if you purchased their magazines. Online, however, these articles can be accessed for free.

The growing use of the internet for pretty much any part of one’s daily life is, however, reaching a disturbing point. We can now shop online, read magazines online, conduct research online, even read certain popular novels online. The prevalence of Repetive Strain Injuries or RSIs including Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and Tendonitis is concerning. In addition, research indicates that eye strain and damage can occur from excessive computer use as well.

While I use the computer regularly for school work of course as well as quality time on facebook.com and other websites, sometimes it’s nice, as well as beneficial to have access to magazines and books the old-fashioned way. The extra $4.00 may even be worth it for health reasons.

6. Jordi - April 10, 2007

I am watching someone read Glamour while typing away at 7th st cafe.
2 questions leap out to me.

1) As magazines (or any content provider) stop thinking of themselves as being defined by their medium and instead by the value of their content, how will business models adapt? There may be fewer, better magazines in the future as they focus more on delivering content for fees instead of garbage to attract eyeballs for advertisers.

2) Are there new disruptive technologies out there that would address Meg’s concerns about the vlaue of a tactile reading object but conform to reality of completely porous boundaries around media?

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