With the shocking news of the Independent moving to online-only, the entire industry has been in an uproar, causing magazines to question the profitability of remaining in print.
The idea that one of the UK’s leading newspaper giants has surrendered to the digital age has come as surprise to many but with their history of mounting losses, it seems to be the only way out. The owner, Evegny Lebedev, stated that ‘The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers’. This brings into question our habits as readers and what this means for the future of print.
This isn’t the only company to cease printing, there have been a number of publications that have succumbed to the digital era in the last decade, including Newsweek, Nuts, Bliss and Sugar. In 2014, the sister-title to Cosmopolitan, Company, ceased printing and moved to online-only as a result of an increase in circulation decline.
Over the past few years there has been a steady decrease in circulation for all magazines, including the celebrity titles like Heat, Hello! And Closer which has fuelled concern between the brands.
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So what does this mean for the future of magazines?
Although print circulation may be on a decline, online social interaction and online platforms have been growing in size, popularity and variety throughout the last ten years. This means that rather than folding, magazines and newspapers should be rethinking their strategy, restructuring their content and working out how to utilise this digital world.
Barbara Rowlands from The Guardian discusses the print vs digital approach of magazines and newspapers via their methodology. She says ‘while publishers fixate on modes of distribution (print, online)…they might be better off finding new ways to enrich the lives of their readers’.
We’ve seen new approaches with some magazines who have worked harder on their brand recognition by developing apps, delivering high-definition videos, galleries and exclusive offers and thus strengthening their position in the market.
As much as many people are viewing the decline in print media as a negative – it is indeed the end of an era – I feel that it opens up an awful lot more. The opportunities now open a way for new magazines, and for current publications to make more of an impact socially.
In and amongst the discussions online as to how this will impact the future, I haven’t come across a comparison to Kindle books, something I feel is a way of seeing into the future. With the boom of eBooks, we saw a decline in paperback sales, anyone and everyone could now write a book and publish it – much like what I suspect we’ll see with the number of online magazines appearing. However, October released new results announcing the rise of paperback sales and a spark of hope for traditional publishing houses.
Does this mean that we’re going to experience something similar with media publications? Will we see an influx of new magazines appearing online, only for them to fizzle out soon after? Will we see a comeback like Newsweek?
Words by: Natasha Orme