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Industry Insight

Dr. Joe Recommends: The 2015 Magazine Media Factbook

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: June 11, 2015

I've used the Magazine Publishers Association Factbook for almost 30 years. Now it's the Magazine Media Factbook. It is packed with sunny data about magazine readership that are almost all positive about magazines. It's worth getting, and is a free download.

That said, everyone knows the magazine business is in trouble. Employment in the periodicals industry is below 100,000 for the first time in more than 25 years and looks like it will stay that way. Those data did not make it into the Factbook.

Just because the industry is in trouble does not mean that all publishers are. I learned first hand about an interesting publisher that is just ten years old, has over 800 full color titles, all with very low circulation, targeted to mid- and high-income suburban housing developments. Each development has its own title, and all advertising is local, and its free circulation is limited to homeowners and no one else, and, contrary to common practice, has no web presence. The publisher's revenue is now $100 million, from $0 a little over ten years ago.

So while you're reading the Factbook and wondering “if the data are this good, why has the industry been suffering so?” remember that there are publishers swimming against the tide and doing well with non-traditional approaches.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.


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