At the start of this decade we speculated about the future of the printed medium. People abandoned bookshops and magazines at an alarming rate, seduced by e-readers, and cheap digital books. By 2011 e-book Kindle downloads outsold hard copies!
But sales of physical books increased 4% last year while e-book sales shrank by the same percentage. Perhaps it is because of pricing. We have seen e-book prices rise and that does pull people away from digital and back to print. The average price paid for an e-book increased 7% in 2016, while the price of a hard copy increased 3%.
Nielsen, which tracks book sales in several countries, released 2016 figures. They show a mixed bag: physical sales are up in the UK, US and Ireland but down in Italy, Spain, Australia and South Africa.
Although print is a significant part of this media, it simply isn’t the single driver it used to be. But advertisers in the printed magazine should have more confidence in the quality of their audience who have paid to pick up that issue.
Magazines that survive long into the future – both in print and digital forms – are those which offer something special, something exclusive.
The latest fashionable term, fake news, clearly emphasize the need for accurate reporting and informed comment and analysis. It has traditionally been newspapers that answered to that. But just when we need them the most, the future of newspapers is becoming increasingly unclear.
Newspapers are caught in a technology-primed trap where social media are changing consumer behaviour and diverting advertising. As Last Words? How Can Journalism Survive The Decline Of Print?, a new book by a group of academics and journalists and published by Abramis sets out, the future is bleak.
Targeted magazines though, maintains its popularity. Its objective to serve a niche audience with distinctive, differentiated content still attracts revenue.