The View From The Tree: 6 Things Magazine Publishers Should Stop Doing Now
The future of publishing ain't what it used to be.
A few years ago, "everyone" knew what was coming: except for a few old-timers and Luddites, consumers would soon switch entirely to digital media. Print was dying.
Here's proof that we're no longer all on the same page about our future: a veteran executive at a publishing company you've heard of recently rejected a seemingly slam-dunk, print-based brand extension. He was OK with the costs and the revenue projections but feared a new print product would hurt the brand, which was desperately trying to prove its relevance in the internet age.
Meanwhile, another publisher's internet whiz kid created a web product that did well with search engines (and with monetizing the traffic) but got little other traffic. His proposed solution: publish a bookazine (a special print issue sold on newsstands) to get the venture's content and brand in front of consumers.
How can publishers make sense of a world where the digital natives recognize the unique advantages of ink on paper while the old-timers run around screaming, "Print is dead!"? Let's face it, the mindset we've adopted and assumptions we've made the past few years have led us astray. (I say "we" because I, too, make my living in the magazine industry. You didn't think my cheesy-looking blog was paying the bills, did you?)
Most of us are paddling as fast as we can, so the last thing we need is to be weighed down with new additions to our "to do" list. Instead, I humbly offer the following list of six things we magazine publishers should stop doing as we attempt to navigate the unpredictable multi-media rapids:
1) Stop reading so much about the travails of daily newspapers.
It's too depressing—and largely irrelevant to the magazine business. Newspaper publishers are overly reliant on a single product line that many people no longer buy because they can get their news faster and cheaper. But magazines don't compete on speed, at least not in the same way as newspapers. Our traditional business is declining far more gradually (and actually growing for some publishers), and we're way ahead of newspapers in diversifying our revenue sources.