Zimbalist believes the two types of magazines most likely to survive in print are long-form, text-heavy magazines like The New Yorker and those with rich photography. "In terms of enthusiast magazines there are advantages to digital—you can have a lot of enhancements in video, audio; you can personalize it—but a lot of people prefer print, and I think it is going to evolve slowly and generationally."
The pressure is not from advertisers, Zimbalist adds, who are fairly platform neutral. Choice of platform instead has more to do with the size of the advertiser and their budget. "The smaller advertisers look to us to help them navigate the digital universe," he says. "They love digital publishing, they just don't know how to do it. … I think they are as excited about it as anyone else."
Active Interest Media has pursued innovative revenue opportunities arising from its niche relationships, such as USRider, a sort of AAA for horse trailers providing towing and horse stabling in the event of a breakdown on the road. "We know horse users well, and this is basically a subscription service we are selling much like we would a subscription to a magazine. We are using our lists and our consumer marketing talents to run this business and it is growing rapidly and doing well," Zimbalist says.
AIM also works with a partner to sell liability insurance to yoga studios as well as running a service for boat owners called Vessel Vanguard, which distills complex boat operations manuals into a digital platform that keeps records and sends out periodic reminders of when maintenance is due.
E-commerce is increasingly important to F+W. A division that began in 2008 with one online store has grown to 30 niche sites such as WritersDigestShop.Com and MyDesignShop.Com, selling their own products and those of third-party vendors, Domville says.