Pay Attention, Publishers: Outsiders Are Redefining What a Magazine Can Be
Software mogul, golf equipment manufacturer, movie-streaming service, mattress maker, actress, social media behemoth: It seems everyone wants to get into the magazine-publishing business these days. Everyone, that is, except for “real” magazine-media publishers.
Whenever a well-known digital-native brand comes out with a print magazine, you can count on a wave of rah-rah “print isn’t dead” articles. Netflix touched off the latest wave of breathless “magazine resurgence” coverage in April by revealing it will publish a magazine this month. (Never mind that the likes of Money, Glamour, ESPN, and Traditional Home recently joined the Digital-Only Club. Or that Entertainment Weekly is going monthly. Without changing its name.)
These outsiders to magazine publishing don’t represent a resurgence so much as a “rethinkance.” They have no interest in huge circulations, cut-rate subscriptions, traditional advertising deals, or other trappings of the “real” magazine business. Even their motives for publishing magazines are different.
Industries are usually revolutionized by the outsiders, not the entrenched. So let’s take a look at what these newcomers are up to.