Guest Columnist: It's the Publishing Model—Not Print—That's Dead
I came to America 30 years ago. It was the Golden Age of Magazines. The industry was launching 150 to 200 new magazines a year. It was the revival period after the devastating 1960s when television (remember that thing?) claimed the lives of tens of magazines. Life, Look and The Saturday Evening Post all died in the ’60s and early ’70s. Print was dead yet another time. Nobody wrote about this new rag called Rolling Stone, nor did they predict People magazine would become a major cornerstone of our industry. “Print is dead,” we were told, time and again.
Then came the Golden Age of Magazines in the 1980s—an age that lasted some 15 years and witnessed so many innovative technologies threatening to dethrone the magazine industry as we know it. Remember the magazines on videocassettes, the magazines on CD-ROM, the magazines on DVD? Then came the Internet with a capital “I.” Another threat and more prophets of doom and gloom. Well, guess what? For every magazine that shut its doors in 2008, at least 20 new magazines were born. Magazines die, and magazines are born. That is the cycle of life. It happened before the Internet, before television, before film, before radio, before the telephone—you name the technology. In fact, for you Doubting Thomases of this world, of the first two American magazines ever published (way back in 1741), one lasted six issues and the other lasted three.
So when you hear that we live in interesting times, be aware that although we may not know what the future may hold, we should take solace that we are not the first generation—nor the last—to live in interesting times. It is not the times that matter; it is what you do with that time. For many folks, interesting times mean that the cup is half full. It means that it is time to launch Everyday with Rachael Ray, Food Network, Organic Beauty and The American Dog. Print is not dead; the publishing model that we utilize is dead and six feet under.
Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer at the School of Journalism. As Mr. Magazine™ he engages in media consulting and research for the magazine media and publishing industry.