BoSacks: No B.S.: Your Place in the Media Wars

As this is the Publishing Executive annual tips and tricks issue I thought it might be instructive to take a quick review and see how we are faring in the media wars of the 21st century. Are there any trends worth acknowledging? And if so, what can we deduce from the results that are meaningful to your career?

Here are a few recent statistical highlights:

1) When the century started the top print magazine AARP: The Magazine had a circulation of 20,936,279. As of June 2012 it had risen to 22,528,478—a gain of 1,592,199. Not shabby for a printed magazine in this day and age even if it is for a seasoned crowd of the non-screenager population.

2) Reader’s Digest has gone from 12,589,000 to 5,606,743, halving its circulation since 2000, but is so far surviving a bankruptcy.

3) Game Informer magazine has come from almost nowhere to be the third largest magazine on the list with a circulation of 8,169,524 and rising.

4) McCall’s magazine was number 10 on the list in 2000 with a circulation of 4,104,990. It has now crashed and burned, was momentarily renamed Rosie, died and is no more.

5) Newsweek in 2000 had a circulation of 3,141,578 and will go out of print at the end of December to become a digital-only product.

6) TV Guide was number 4 on the list in 2000 with a circulation of 10,388,083 and now—remarkably to this reporter—is still in print with an editorial refocus and produces a popular magazine with a circulation of 2,020,449.

7) And let’s not forget People magazine, which had a circulation of 3,539,034 in 2000 and has maintained its prowess with a 2012 circulation of 3,563,410.

What deductions we can arrive at from reviewing this short list of winners and losers?

The first is that the magazine industry is in both a state of change and a state of stasis. Magazines come and magazines go, but thankfully, reading is here to stay. The most important tip I can give is that, despite the rumors of our demise, you still have as much opportunity for a great career, and with as much longevity, as at any time in our history. I once penned in these pages that this is a time to rethink the unthinkable, as we now live in the greatest period of experimentation, innovation and entrepreneurism that the world has ever seen. Keep that in your head as our industry and our careers grow and morph.

Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company Media-Ideas (Media-Ideas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.

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Comments
  • BDF

    Hey, This is interesting but isn’t AARP a membership magazine? Which would mean that the numbers only tell us that AARP’s member rolls are growing? And that the population of the US is skewing older and joining AARP (mostly for health insurance). As far as I know it’s not sold on the news stand, nor by subscription, so how does it figure into any discussion about the health of magazines?

  • AdLab

    Yes, the media landscape has changed. As someone who has spent the past 34 years in and around the media, I caution, however, that "video did NOT kill the radio star." Instead, we live in a multi-platform world where old and new co-exist side by side. The companies that think they are in the newspaper, magazine, radio or TV business will go by the wayside. Those that unerstand they are in the business of providing UNIQUE, ORIGINAL AND COMPELLING CONTENT, ACROSS PLATFORMS, ON DEMAND, will survive…and thrive. Witness McGraw-Hill selling Business Week to Bloomberg for $1. It shouldn’t have happened. They should have been able to monetize that content.