BoSacks: The Future Ain't What It Used to Be
Do you ever wonder if the publishing industry has learned enough in the last five years to be more effective and more profitable in the next five years? Of course, effective is a relative term and very much a moving target. And some publishing houses have prospered, while others decidedly have not. Nevertheless, it's reasonable to ponder where the publishing industry will be in five years. Or to look at that time frame somewhat differently, where will the publishing industry be 10 years after the introduction of the iPad? Will print finally have a resurgence? Will advertising dollars flow back to the printed page? Will magazine newsstand sales finally be going up instead of down? Most rational thinkers will tell you no—recent trends will not reverse and the best we can hope for is some sort of stabilization.
We must admit that we will never achieve the success of our grandfathers in print. Yet that doesn't mean we won't be profitable and perhaps even more profitable than ever before. Not only is this possible, but entirely probable—keeping in mind that such success can only be for those that actually survive the next five years.
If we have learned anything in the last half-decade it is that a five-year business plan isn't worth the paper it's written upon, and that changes we cannot possibly anticipate will vex us as technology continues to outperform itself. Perhaps the common challenge that has confronted and will continue to confront the industry is the emergence of the "evolving stream of content continuity"—the continuous deployment of content without the restraint of a recognizable schedule or any kind of consistent substrate. The concept of always on, always refreshed, and always available, is the schedule that today's readers now expect, and so it is being imposed upon the reluctant traditional magazine media industry.