The New Reality of the Magazine Business
I'm beyond telling you that we live in exciting times and that change is inevitable. Digital newsstands are here, digital magazines are here, and they are here to stay. Concurrent with that thought is that successful printed products of the future will most likely be for the affluent—and deservedly so.
Everyone still seems to be looking for new business models when these models have been right in front of you the whole time. Create a product worth buying and people will pay for it. Forget the welfare checks from the advertising community and start to make exciting magazines on any substrate.
Will everyone survive? No. But perhaps that is the point. Move past the struggle for survival and start creating new, powerful, profitable products. These could be on paper, but the point is that they don't have to be on paper. They just have to be worthy of paying money for them. If you are trying to salvage your six-figure job in an old empire, you can forget it. That is part of the problem with this industry. There are too many top-heavy organizations with senior management trying to keep their jobs as they were and the six figures that went with them. It is very hard to be nimble and quick and keep your stuffy old job at the same time. Better to create a new six-figure job in the new world and the new economy. It is being done every day by one entrepreneur or another. The riches and the new fortunes are out there, the ideas are out there, and the reading world is growing faster than ever before.
All this posturing about saving the venerable old magazine business is nothing but the last gasps of dead men walking. If you have a title worthy of printing, then do so. There will be plenty of successful printed magazines. But you must charge enough so that you may employ the editors and writers that you'll need to be successful on any substrate. You must understand that a major component—and perhaps the most successful part of our industry—is going to be digital. If you find this talk offensive, then you are just part of the problem and the solution—a pink slip—will likely be handed to you any day now.