Thursday, August 13, 2009

Newsweek: The Good News about Magazines Isn't That Good

Big whoopidy do. Newsweek reports that, despite an industry-wide drop in ad pages of 28 percent for the first half of 2009 (compared to the first half of 2008), some magazines have actually increased their ad pages.

Well, one would assume some magazines would. It's pretty unlikely that, of the thousands and thousands of magazines published regularly in the United States, absolutely none of them would have experienced an increase even in these dire times.

The article looks at a handful of these lucky publications and explains how they did it -- such as luck, or increased visibility from a redesign, or being in a hot niche market (such as organic gardening), or some such. In other words, not much there that can be applied widely ("Rule number one: Be lucky. Okay, now, get out there and be lucky!").

I think what bothered me about the article, which really is rather harmless, is the headline deck: "Magazines aren't dead ... at least not all of them. A look at publishing's page turners." It just oversells -- pardon the wording -- what is really an unspectacular article. Reading the article will tell you nothing about what's really going on in the magazine world, whether magazines are really dead, how much of the industry's problems is cyclical and how much of it's long-term, who screwed up, how to get things going, or whether basing your magazine's income mostly on ad sales instead of cover price and subscriptions is really the only or best way to go for every publisher.

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