Monday, April 13, 2009

Priced Out

It may sound counterintuitive to be able to increase a magazine's circulation after it raises prices -- even in the best of times, not to mention in a deep recession. But some magazines have found that they are able to do just that, according to an article today in The New York Times.

Titles such as People and The Economist experienced increases in readers even after hiking prices. Meanwhile, I've written here before about the dirt-cheap subscription price for Esquire, which is now cheaper on a per-copy subscription rate than the original cover price of the magazine's first issue more than 75 years ago.

In the Times article, there are some ideas expressed about why raising prices works for some titles and not others. Personally, I suspect it has to do with two things: the readers' income levels (sort of a "duh" answer, but worth noting nonetheless); and whether the magazine in question is a must-buy/first-buy or a secondary title for the reader. Magazines that I read faithfully and that have wormed their way into my heart are largely price-immune to me. But other magazines, the ones I pick up at Borders when I'm just looking for another magazine to purchase, are very price-dependent.

That second point will, I think, also determine which magazines survive this hellish recession.

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