Is Print Dead?

Well is print dead? The answer is no. Of course, print is not dead. While the market share of communications using print has been severely reduced, people will always love holding in their hands a well-design communication product, printed on nice paper. The tactile quality of printed paper evokes a primitive desire and makes more precious the information stored in the paper.

According to Grand View Research, the global print newspapers & magazines market size was estimated at USD 123.93 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 121.50 billion in 2022.

This makes it more important than ever to determine if you will be successful in starting a magazine or other print publication. In this article, we will discuss how to do just that.

But first, a brief history on the topic

Around 2009, with the mortgage crisis absolutely wrecking the economy, the question of “Is print dead” was the most often asked question I heard from prospective clients thinking about starting a magazine.

Consumers were watching every penny during that period. People were filing for bankruptcies in record numbers, unemployment was soaring and the economy was in a mess. Online media had also become huge and was the number one way people consumed media. Going online was easy and it was cheap. A lot of magazines went under during that period for both reasons.

My own magazine consulting business revenue dropped by 40%. I found myself relocating from a remote town in the Teton mountains, to Salt Lake City, Utah, where I was able to drum up a bit of marketing business doing some good, old-fashioned face-to-face networking.

I was also able to land a position as art director for Salt Lake Magazine, the region’s largest city-regional publication. Amidst a sea of sinking magazine ships, this magazine was thriving.

But what was it that enabled some publications to thrive, while others went down in flames?

During my time with Salt Lake Magazine, I did a lot of thinking about the question. I was still running my consulting business on the side, and answered the question, many times for the dozens of prospects who contacted me.

It’s all about the niche

The Key to Launching a Magazine had changed. Not only were the business basics important, but the chosen niche of a magazine became the most important factor in determining from if a print publication had the potential to succeed.

I’ve always believed that educating clients and prospective clients is important. I sent a lot of the prospective clients packing back then—and I still do—because their chosen niche was just not viable.

City/regionals, like Salt Lake Magazine, are successful because they serve a dual purpose of serving locals and visitors. City/regionals build their brands as the defacto, curated source for food and entertainment in that city or region. Their distribution at key traveler hubs like grocers, hotels, restaurant make them easily accessible to business travelers and tourists, and serve a hospitality function.

Other evergreen magazine niches include travel, fashion, food and more.

For prospective clients contact me and ask if the magazine business was a viable business to jump intood question. After all, these entrepreneurs were considering sizable investments both in money and time. As I have discussed in other posts, like The Key to Launching a Magazine, it takes at least two principals to stack the odds in your favor. One to run the business side, as a publisher, and one to run the creative side.

Niche should be shareable, accessible in places where readers have the time to browse, etc.

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