Timeless Collectability will be the mantra for 2013. In the magazine world, 2012 brought about the death of two print weeklies (one originating in 2012 and the other from 1933), along with their less-than-promising resurrection online. It also redirected our insights to the value of diversity and print’s need to be a collectible force.
To engage the magazine audience, one must be willing to go beyond the informative and straight to the incomparable. One must become the king’s ransom for readers and never relinquish that role. One must provide the timeliness and timelessness that only print, in its inexplicable way, can. And one must divert from, and direct to, the continuum that is digital. If this seems contradictory and impossible … read on and I’ll lead you into 2013’s glowing light surrounding the future of print.
1. The future of print is becoming more a collector’s item than a disposable item. A magazine should possess some collectible value that offers something timely and timeless.
2. Think integrated print and digital. Your printed magazine has to keep the audience engaged, keep the advertiser engaged, perhaps through mobile linkage.
3. Killing a magazine in print, hoping it will survive on the web never worked, is not working and never will work. Once you are out of sight, you are out of mind. Even the “successes” in this case are a fraction of their print predecessors.
4. When someone tells you that print is dead or there’s no more room for magazines, give them $10 and send them to the nearest newsstand and ask them to buy a copy. Then let them judge for themselves whether there is room for more magazines or not.
5. Fear of failure and statistical analysis are the biggest reasons for doing nothing, in terms of launches, finding a new market, or creating a new brand.
6. As ever, remember that we are in the business of audience first, customers first. Not pixels on a screen … not ink on paper. Once you lose sight of the audience, you are headed for disaster. It’s simple: You need to offer the relevant message, via the relevant medium, to the relevant audience.
7. Invest in print, ink and paper. Feeling and touching are the first step to engaging with the experience. Cheap products mean cheap experience.
8. There is hope. More than 200 new titles were launched with a regular frequency in 2012 and more than 600 new titles as specials and annuals.
9. Like all creations, magazines have a time to be born and a time to die. No, not the demise of a genre of magazine; rather the loss of some titles and birth of others.
10. Unless your magazine content provides the readers with a “losing themselves and their sense of time” experience, you are better off killing the magazine.
11. It is time for someone to find a new name for all the digital stuff out there. As long as we refer to it as “replicas”, I know we are not there yet. When was the last time you called television, radio with pictures?
12. And Keep in mind, as a Dutch publisher often reminds me: “publishing is believing.”
So, keep the faith and go on publishing…and remember these words of wisdom: When times are tough and dark, start dreaming; when things are easy and light, keep on walking. Also don’t ever forget: print is the mirror and digital is merely its reflection. Let the believing begin…
Samir Husni, Ph.D., is founder (2009) and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The former Ole Miss journalism department chairman’s Mr. Magazine™ monicker comes from his tracking more than 20,000 launches since 1986, when his Guide to New Magazines debuted. The 28th edition of the Guide (Nautilus Publishing/Oxford, Miss.) will be released in April 2013.
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