Tuesday, August 25, 2009...1:16 pm

Why the advertising model for funding print publishing is broken

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Following his recent comments on Freelance Unbound, Martin Cloake has a nice post here on the changing dynamics of magazine publishing. 
His thesis (roughly) is that saturation in the market forced down individual title readerships, while a fixation on keeping advertisers happy made magazines so bland that this readership deserted the sector in droves. It’s not tah interweebs what done it – so we can still retrieve the situation with better quality product.
I’d certainly agree with much of this – although I have to stand up for the disruptive technology argument again. 
This time the technology was desktop publishing (DTP), which opened up the print magazine world in the late 1980s and early 1990s to many new entrants and was a big factor in the market saturation that Martin cites. 
Can we go back to a mass readership for magazines, so that newsstand sales and subscriptions pay our publication costs – including decent salaries for journalists?
I think the odds are against it, purely because of over-supply versus shrinking demand. And remember, reading as a leisure pursuit is under threat from a whole range of new content types and formats – from gaming to social networking. Whether we can keep younger potential customers on board is a big question…

1 Comment

  • I agree, Simon. I can’t see how anything can ever be as it was before the web; this technology is totally disruptive and revolutionary. Not only in its own right, but in the continuous stream of innovation it has already inspired, and continues to inspire.
    Small example: Watch this and tell me you genuinely foresaw, as you watched it in 2001, even a fraction of the changes sparked by Apple’s iPod. I’ve got a few grand says not even the folks who invented it really understood what they’d done.
    My point is that iPod and iPhone and Google Wave moments are going to keep coming. Every one will spark off a new and unforeseen chain of trickle-down tech developments that will have impacts, large and small (but always cumulative) on all of our lives… and on all those things we start to think could ‘go back to being the same’.
    They never will. In the wild uncertainty of it all, that’s the only truth I fully understand.

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