I thought I could get away with a one word entry for Peter Houston’s wee ’Magazine Diaries’ project, but apparently it had to be exactly 100 words. “Doomed, doomed, we’re all doomed” 20 times would have done it, but in the end I went for a suitably upbeat, joyous and life-affirming entry with the minimum of repetition. (And if you haven’t done your 100 words yet you have until Friday.)
A fair few of the entries about publishing’s wonderful present seem either to be written while under the influence of strong drink, or based on redefining ’magazine’ as anything that’s got content in it. One wee laddie even said that Buzzfeed was a magazine – presumably in the same way that ASOS is a ’catalogue’, or Facebook is an ’address book’.
My effervescent optimism about magazine publishing is for the ink on paper periodical, or its bastard offspring the digital page-turner (was there ever a more pointless hybrid of old and new technologies?). They’re doomed, and the companies clinging to this model can only wring so much cash from their products before the inevitable terminus. Some of what we currently call ’magazines’ will survive as digital ’brands’, but that won’t be based on the auld publishing model of ’issues’ and ’publication dates’ and ’contents pages’ and ’covers’. It won’t be bought in shops or delivered to your home or read in the bath. Some of the current publishing companies will transmute and survive, but lots of them won’t, mainly because new starters don’t have to carry the financial or emotional baggage of a print legacy and they’ll steal oor dinner. (more…)
This is about the time that circulation managers are polishing up their returns to send off to the ABC and if the recent retail trends are anything to go by, there will need to be an interesting range of techniques employed to put any sort of positive spin on the figures.
Dropping into Private Frazer’s inbox is Seymour Distribution‘s report on Quarter 1 newsstand sales. This covers the whole market, not just the titles that Seymour represents, and it indicates a year on year drop of nearly 14% in sales volumes. That means that newsstand is down by over a third since the beginning of 2009.
And the carnage seems to be pretty much across the board: women’s titles are down by 14% year on year, motoring is off 10%, computing over 20%, men’s interest over 25%.
There are no bright points among the gloom. If you aren’t a long way down a strategic route to offset the decline in print, then really, honestly, truly, you’re probably too late.
The sun’s out, so it’s spring cleaning time at Bauer with a two-for-one offer on magazine closures.
Last week they decided that Pregnancy and Birth was not the little bundle of joy that the accountants wanted (it was barely managing to sell 12,000 copies an issue), and now More! is less.
More!‘s fall is quite joyously spectacular. Its ABC for July-December 2010 was 188,000; for the same period last year it barely managed 92,000, a drop of more than half. Such a decline either suggests readers deserting in droves, or the switching off of a huge level of support and black hat circulation techniques. In the same period Grazia has lost 40,000 sales (17%) and Heat an impressive 110,000 (30%), none of which is going to endear Paul to the Germans.
Rumours are circulating that one, possibly two, other magazines in the Bauer portfolio may have announcements of their own in the coming weeks.
What are we to make of the news that Vitality Publishing has sold Attitude to a spin-off company to leave itself with just Loaded and Superbike magazine.
In 2010 Vitality bought four titles from the IPC bargain rail, Loaded, Superbike, Prediction and Hair. At the time, some eyebrows were raised at the opaque ownership structure of Vitality. Prediction seems to have been immediately floated off as some form of MBO, Hair was part of the portfolio of titles sold to Haversham in July 2011. With Attitude gone, Vitality is left with two magazines both of which suffered ABC falls of more than 25% in the last returns. Further to this, back in January Vitality itself became the subject of a management buyout. (more…)
Private Frazer was away last week, knocking over wee bairns on the slopes around the pretty Austrian village of Schadenfreude, so missed the publication of the latest ABC figures.
It seems that as I sipped the gluhwein, the UK publishing industry has been experiencing black runs of its own, with descents so precipitous they would make Franz Klammer blanch.
There are stand out performances across the board, and it seems almost unfair to single out individual companies. Almost.
Passing over to the other side is Haunted magazine who have announced the suspension of their print edition to be replaced by a digital-only version.
Wait! A message is coming through to me from my spirit guide…“it won’t work. They’re doooooomed”.
Short Circuit, a magazine devoted to stock car and hot rod racing has crossed the finish line. The publisher writes:
“sales are no longer sufficient to keep the printed version of the magazine going. I have made several cut-backs over the last few seasons to match the falling sales … and to make any further cutbacks in either content, quality or colour would see even less sales so it’s time to draw a line…after all it’s only fair to our loyal advertisers, and equally our long-standing (and long suffering!) contributors who have stood by us …. Publishing the magazine for 24 of the 35 years, it wasn’t just a job, or a hobby – it was a way of life.”
So the great IPC yard sale continues, with titles flying around the country to a variety of smaller publishers. This was obviously Sylvia Auton’s mission on her return from the states, but although we can see the results, we don’t yet have an idea of the overall strategic picture. (more…)
An exciting wee chart in PaidContent, showing the decline in magazine sales over the past decade. The bairns over there correlate this fall to the point where the interweb achieved popular lift off; up to a point Lord Copper, but Private Frazer would draw your attention to a couple of other seismic shifts.
The first is hubris - publishing companies’ belief that they could launch any old tat, increase cover prices way beyond inflation, pack titles with content that kept advertisers on side (and forming whole new divisions to come up with ‘creative (sic) solutions’), and reduce the numbers of people putting the titles together (boosting instead the number of management and sales staff). In the first part of the decade the sense that magazine publishing companies were able to defy gravity was palpable – ‘sod the readers, count the money’. (more…)
Dennis Publishing has thrown in its hand with Inside Poker magazine.