Are Magazines Dead?

Published : 24 April 2017

Don't you just love it when 'experts' make sensational claims that prove to be, well, wrong! For years now we've been hearing that 'print is dead' and 'magazines are dead', yet they're still here. In fact, if statistics are anything to go by, magazine readership is up.

Roy Morgan recently announced that Australian magazine print readership for 2016 was up 3.6% on the previous year. In other words, print magazines reached 12,658,000 Australians aged 14 and over.

That's a pretty hefty result that shows we are far from finished with our glossy magazine culture.

Bucking The Trend

And what's more, there have been some very interesting developments that totally fly in the face of those damning predictions. One such example is Newsweek. In 2012 Newsweek ceased print publication and was only available online. But when the title was bought by IBT Media, they re-launched a print edition, in 2014.

And then there's online technology site, CNET. Despite the obvious connection with digital technology, CNET chose to launch a print magazine. Interesting, huh?

So what is it about magazines that we like so much? Bearing in mind how much information there is online, why are we spending more money on buying print?

It's All About The Senses

To put things in perspective, it must be recognised that print media in the form of newspapers has taken a tumble. Less people are buying newspapers, and advertising sales are down. Even so, that didn't stop media mogul Rupert Murdoch from saying newspapers would outlive him!

But magazines are really quite different. Reader polls suggest we love the look and feel - even the smell - of magazines, something you can't experience online. Believe it or not, there's even a Facebook fan page dedicated to sniffing glossy magazines!

In just the same way people love that 'new car smell', a freshly purchased magazine is crisp, clean and exciting, inviting us to explore it further. 

Sense of Ceremony

There's almost a sense of ceremony when you buy a magazine. You take it home, make a coffee, select your favourite chair, and open the cover. Some of us flick first, and read later; others devour it from cover to cover.

Like books, magazines have a place on our coffee table or shelf. It's something you can easily pick-up and reference, without having to log into your laptop or tablet. And how much better is it to get into bed with a magazine, than a computer!

The Ongoing Debate

Print versus digital is an ongoing debate that isn't delivering the results once predicted. Of course, there are those who depend on digital for everything, from news and weather to entertainment. But print is still there, too.

A survey in the US found that respondents definitely prefer a glossy read to a digital one. In fact, when it came to magazines, respondents said they read more, read longer and subscribed to print more than digital.

Fashion, beauty, health and general interest magazines are as popular as ever, but we also love anything to do with the home. From home decor and renovating, to real estate, we use magazines to get ideas, research products, and find new homes. 

Easy Reference Tool

The appeal here is that everything you need is in one easy-to-use publication. There's no need to wait for web pages to open - simply turn the page. And if you want to go back to it later, it's easy to find.

In that respect, magazines have gone full circle. Remember when certain titles came with special binders, so you could keep each issue and refer back to it? We're seeing a similar trend with cookery/food magazines. 

Some of these stunning, glossy publications come with a price tag that easily matches buying a recipe book!

Ebook Sales Stagnated

There's something else that suggests the print naysayers were wrong, and that's book sales. They may have declined but they are far from dead. In fact, some of the major publishing houses are once again inviting submissions.

And as for those wonderful, game-changing e-books? The initial rapid growth has now stagnated. Was it a novelty that just wore off? Did the experience fall short? Seems perhaps it did.

While digital is still the choice for music and video, it's just not giving readers the experience they desire. It's fine for snippets of news and information but, when it comes to long-form reading, we are more set in our ways.

Less Time Online

One reason for this is likely to be the increasing amount of time we spend online for work and social media activity. A US survey found book readers wanted to reduce online time, making a print magazine or book a better option. Interestingly, this included 37% of those aged 18-24.

Most surveys and business forums agree that while newspaper advertising is in decline, magazine advertising is still viable and certainly delivers results. 

Magazines are read by all ages and, as we saw, more people are buying them. Even better, we know that magazine adverts are seen multiple times, increasing their chance of success. Specialist magazines ensure that your advertisement is put in front of a ready market.

Are magazines dead? Far from it - and the numbers prove it!

 

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