From the Editor: What's Next?
Blyth agrees that the push to deliver higher and higher rate bases by offering magazines to consumers for obscenely low prices has had a significant, negative impact on the industry. “We have taught the American public not to pay for magazines,” she says.
We also need to rethink the medium—and whether we’re maximizing each medium’s advantages. As Alex Brown suggests in her column (page 13), print’s tactile quality can and should be exploited to the fullest. And the Web’s immediacy and interactivity should be as well.
Still, change will continue to come. New ideas will surface, old ideas will fall by the wayside, as will many magazines. Some editors will abandon print, while others launch new print magazines. What will not change is that publishers will continue to seek to reach readers with relevant content—whether through customized print editions based on reader demographics or custom Internet sites that track visitors’ data and behavior, and serve relevant content based on that information. The key will be, as pointed out in this issue, focusing on the fact that we are content producers, regardless of medium.
But, as so many have said, that alone is not enough. You have to provide relevant content. And to do this, you have to know your reader, not just their titles and companies, or ages and income levels, but their needs, their challenges—and their preferences for how they want to receive content.
I don’t believe we face a print or non-print future, but a hybrid future, where some choose print and others choose another medium for their content. Magazines have been around for a couple hundred years, and books for several hundred more. They have survived the emergence of radio, television and audiobooks—and will survive the Internet. And unlike music formats—which have evolved from vinyl records to cassette tapes, compact discs and now MP3s—books and magazines have retained their “format” all this time.