Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Now, the decline of magazines?

Posted on | August 13, 2008 | No Comments

Downstairs in our building is a deli, run by a delightful Greek named George. I put in my sandwich order and then invariably pivot 180 degrees to check out the magazine rack. Until recently, a smattering of serious magazines had prominent placement among the cheesecake/beefcake rags. The Economist aways stood out, Forbes, New Yorker, Time. Now they’re hidden. Maybe George is thinking that if anyone in our building (which houses the Associated Press and tons of WPP marketing/advertising offices) wanted those publications, they’d be subscribers.
In any case, whatever attempt George is making to bolster the newsstand circulation of popular mags isn’t working: Magazine sales are down more than 6 percent, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The New York Times quoted John Harrington, an industry analyst with Harrington Associates:

“This is nothing more than really just the impact of the economy. People are shopping very cautiously and less frequently, avoiding impulse buys, which are what magazine purchases are.”

Or it could be more and more people choosing to spend time on social networking–which continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Or it could be along the lines of what my colleague Mike Spataro Twittered about yesterday….I’ve seen this somewhere before!
What the gods hath wrought on daily newspapers may be coming home to roost for magazines. And why not? Whether it’s at George’s or Safeway, the popular titles all tell the same story. And it’s mostly a story told in pictures, because apparently no one can read any more.
Rolling Stone is cutting its trim size but not to save money, according to its founder, Jann Wenner. It was to

“partly to offer advertisers and sellers a more uniform size. Wenner Media said the new size would allow for more editorial pages and higher quality paper that will result in sharper photos.”

Yeah, right. Whatever, Jann.

The bottom line is that a shakeout has to emerge in publishing, both in print and in online. There’s a lot of noise out there, and the human brain only comprehends so much at one time. Trusted (or entertaining) sources will always rise to the top, be they online or in print.

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No Responses to “Now, the decline of magazines?”

  1. Loring Wirbel
    August 13th, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

    But why is the highest ad-page count at Elle, GQ, Allure, Maxim, FHM, Glamour, Lucky? (Lucky is particularly insidious because it is a magazine about shopping, where it is impossible to distinguish ads from content). People are demanding the dumbed-down. Flipping through pages is ok vs. scrolling through web pages, provided one doesn’t have to think. And everyone in Ellegqalluremaximfhm is so pretty.

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