Bo Sacks - The Profit Prophet: Stop Firing the Editors and Writers
Rance Crain, president of Crain Communications, made an interesting point last month. In a Jan. 4 Advertising Age column, he wrote, "Consumers are getting used to saving again, and they won't part with their money unless they're given pretty good reasons." So where does that leave the magazine business?
I think that if Crain's prediction comes true, we actually might be in pretty good shape—provided we actually have indispensable edit. Ask any devout magazine loyalist if her favorite niche title is primary and essential to her life. I think she probably would say yes.
Now, I ask you—the publisher—whether you're devoting enough corporate energy, resources and financial backing to your editorial staff in order to actually produce an indispensable editorial package? If the answer is yes, then why are you charging so little for such a valuable product? Ask the Economist how it feels about its edit and its worth. Why do you think it can charge a premium and you can't? What makes it so special? You guessed it—its edit is worth that price, or so the reader believes, and that is all that matters.
The entire magazine paradigm has changed in the space of just a few years. Nothing is as it was. Or, as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam put it: "The Moving Finger writes, and having writ, Moves on; nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line."
Like any poem, you can interpret it in your own way. To me, it says that you can't go back to the way it was—you can't change history—and yelling, screaming and bemoaning your current situation is basically irrelevant. The only choice is to accept the now and move forward so in the future, when there is a new now, you have no further regrets. I hope that wasn't too metaphysical for you.