We think the Print Is(n't) Dead ping pong rhetoric is becoming a little stale. All magazines being grouped together in the same boat, sinking or otherwise, is both unfair and inaccurate. It takes quite a lot to make us at Newsstand pen a blog post - but this topic ticks all the right boxes and we strongly feel the need to assuage our twitching eyelid.
There are magazines and then there are magazines.
We are going to be a little crude here and group them in to two distinctive areas. There are mainstream, high print run, advert driven magazines and then there are independent, low print run, copy sales driven publications.
It would be foolish and occasionally unfair to write that one group was of higher quality than the other, but they certainly work from different business models which influence strongly the final product that you would end up with on your coffee table/dustbin.
The mainstream segment will always look to it's circulation numbers to fuel its advertising revenue, whereas the independent sector will generally look to producing a product that the customer will pay a sustainable price for. With extreme generalisation, we can say that the mainstream magazines are having a tough time - resorting to cheaper and cheaper subscription deals in order to keep those circulation numbers up; similarly we can say that the independents are experiencing a boom with new launches and increasing sales for those producing the "quality with love" products that typify the sector.
Readers can get the "advert driven, flippantly written" stuff all over the internet - it's free and plentiful. What readers still want - and are happy to pay well for - is the quality publication that the editor lives and breathes and that which feels wonderful in your hands. The fact that it is hard to come by and not shoved in front of us on every corner helps, too.
Yes there are huge challenges for the Indie sector, from availability to cost management - at Newsstand we provide them with a better online sales and fulfilment service than even the mainstream titles have access to - but they are still growing in numbers, increasing sales and bringing us back to a time when print was a joy to behold (that was a real time, right?)
We also know there are also many mainstream titles that are of exceptionally high quality and that we have generalised horribly in this post, but it was means to highlight an important differentiation...that is, when discussing the future success of print magazines please do refer to the baby and the bathwater.
The irony we suppose, is that it's the thought of becoming a successful, mainstream magazine that drives the indie sector on to produce such wonderful products - after all, few independent publishers can be found sequinned up and buying tables at the latest industry function.
So print magazines aren't dying or booming, its just that the paying public is wising up. It's called evolution.