Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines

June 19, 2018


Filed under: magazines,PPA — privatefraser @ 10:45 pm

Several years since I finished posting anything on this blog, time for a coda.

Look around you – count the titles that still exist, look at what’s closed, consider how the Pisspoor Publishing Association is now gutted and enfeebled – and tell me that all those years ago I wasn’t right.

The epitaph is Robert Conquest’s (as retold by Kingsley Amis): “I told you so, you fucking fools”.

July 14, 2015

The PPPAwards

Filed under: magazines — privatefraser @ 2:34 pm

AS what seemed like hour twelve passed at Thursday’s PPA Awards the wine stopped having an anaesthetising effect, the origami had lost what limited attractions it had and I was contemplating ritual disembowelment with the selfie stick when epiphany struck.

If these awards are the “magazine industry’s Oscars” (as no one sober and in command of their senses has ever called them) then they deserve their own ‘Golden Raspberries‘ a celebration of world class incompetence within magazine media in the UK, providing a new benchmark by which all consumer and business media brands are judged..

The plan is (subject to the usual proviso of actually being arsed to do any work) to institute the PPPAwards – or “Piss Poor Publishing Awards”, otherwise known as “The Privates“. There will be a limited number of awards given in this first year, but I hope it will soon become as fozie and unwieldy as the genuine ceremony. Sponsorship will be by John Bull Printing Sets, Ceefax and W H Smiths.

Nominations will open shortly so use this “follow this blog” form below to get the official announcement.

I’d also like to recruit some external judges to add a semblance of independence to what will be my purely arbitrary decisions. If you’d like to be part of the exclusive judging panel, email me (anonymity guaranteed, even for you Bazza).

The award ceremony will take place some time in September and be held exclusively on Twitter where guests can sit down to a splendid dinner and drink the finest wines (just so long as they’ve brought their own). It will be black tie.

Follow the blog or email me to be kept informed on any progress.


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August 6, 2014

Think of the children

Filed under: magazines — privatefraser @ 10:33 am

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…)

July 9, 2013

Don’t Panic! (09/07/13)

Filed under: consumer magazines,Don't panic,figures,magazines — privatefraser @ 12:52 pm
Tags: ,

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.

April 22, 2013

No More!

Filed under: Bauer,closures,consumer magazines,magazines — privatefraser @ 11:38 am

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.


April 1, 2012

Vital Statistics

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…)

February 20, 2012

Downhill nearly all the way

Filed under: figures,magazines,PPA — privatefraser @ 8:50 am

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.


February 10, 2012

The Undead Walk

Filed under: closures,consumer magazines,magazines — privatefraser @ 4:58 pm

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”.

November 30, 2011

Lights Go Out

Filed under: closures,consumer magazines,magazines — privatefraser @ 6:07 pm

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.

October 11, 2010

IPC – get ’em while you can

Filed under: magazines — privatefraser @ 5:55 pm
Tags: ,

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…)

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