With all the multiple disruptions happening in today’s marketplace, there is absolutely no room for complacency and nostalgic dogma. You and your company have to rethink the unthinkable, challenge all your assumptions, and see through the obstacles. BoSacks cites two companies who are rethinking what it means to be a publisher.
I recently had a conversation with a University of Virginia media student about the future of journalism and falls on the heels of a webinar I did recently with journalism students at the Missouri School of Journalism. My advice to those students and to those entering our field is, and always has been, decidedly optimistic. Media and publishing is still a great career. It's not like it was, but perhaps, now it is something more, something bigger and very global.
Yesterday I attended the annual Idealliance conference PRIMEX East in New York City. PRIMEX is a one-day conference that brings together media executives on key topics-of-interest that impact our business today.
An interesting professional sobriety hit the magazine business last week that was a long time in its maturation. The MPA moved us off the teat of accounting for print ad pages as our franchise enabler and instead offered a solution of cross-media oversight. Concurrent with this move was the decision to no longer make public the accumulated printed ad page stats. This move attempts to take the consistently depressing news about declining page counts off the front page and to make them available only to MPA members and their affiliates.
The magazine industry only produces revenue by having a product worth selling. I am happy to report that the industry still produces tens of billions of dollars in revenue. But as an industry the count of sales of magazines has been declining in both newsstand copies sold and subscriptions bought.
In Esquire's October issue, I read a quote from Arthur Miller that reminded me of the publishing industry in general, and of my experience at PRIMEX last week. "Fear, like love, is difficult to explain after it has subsided, probably because it draws away the veils of illusion as it disappears."
BoSacks Speaks Out: I have a publishing epiphany to relate to you that comes from a man who died in 1799. But before I tell you of his wisdom, I will tell you a little personal history which explains how I retrieved this 18th century wisdom.
I am pretty sure that most of us have been unceremoniously dumped in our youth by a boyfriend or a girlfriend at one time or another. I am sure some of us also went back and begged for either forgiveness, a new understanding and/or a chance at a do-over. In adolescence these are normal and understandable actions.
It seems to me that sometimes we publishers lose sight of our perspective. It is admittedly understandable as we hunker down in the trenches producing our products that we sometimes miss some of the details of the wider battle for revenue and survival.
I am going to attempt to address a few of the pundits who declared the death of print at the AMC conference in San Francisco last Tuesday morning. In doing so, I am sure that my long term readers will appreciate the unusual irony I find myself participating in with regard to my analysis and review of the future of our business. I will try to be as succinct as possible and still place before you the necessary historic details.
For the record I just flew back from San Francisco on the red-eye to meet some east coast obligations, and haven't had the time or energy to compile my notes and observations from the American Magazine Conference just concluded. So what you are about to read is free flowing stream of semi-consciousness.
I think that my friend Drew Davis has an expression in his lectures that captures the essence of Angie's List printed magazine quite well, he says "that the only thing that distinguishes you in a digital world is print"
Over the years there has been an enormous amount of discussion about how the Internet "killed" the newspaper industry. I do not believe that it is a true statement - at least the murder did not take place as a cause and effect relationship.
Yesterday I read an article by David Winograd that discusses from his point of view the Problem with Magazines and The iPad. The author has some serious observations about why the magazines on the iPad don’t work for him and no doubt for many others. The problems are mostly hardware/software related, and I am here to tell you that these problems will be completely solved in just a few short years.
Last night I read about the demise of My Weekly Reader and it started me thinking. Have you ever seen an event fly by and deep within your heart know that it was a great and missed opportunity? The death of My Weekly Reader seems to me to be such a missed opportunity.
One of the best parts of what I do for a living is that I get to go a multitude of magazine/media trade shows to meet people and listen to lectures from absolutely every part of the magazine food chain. I go to writers associations, editors associations, production, distribution and circulation, digital workshops, libraries, regional magazine associations, and countless other types of publishing events.
I think we can all agree that in the last decade or so, there have been absolute and fundamental shifts in communication patterns and processes. It was the great writer and journalist Mark Twain who once commented that the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. So, too, are the reports of the death of print.
There is a debate that is going on in the publishing industry about sustainability that seems like it is mostly for the undereducated and terribly misinformed. If you really understand "green", which most of us don't, it is terribly wrong for the green wanna be's to insist that recycled paper be forced into all virgin pulp for a proper carbon footprint.
In the last ten years or so our business has so fundamentally changed as to be almost unrecognizable to former participants and past industry giants. No one in our industry no matter what their title performs the function that their predecessors performed not ten years ago nor five years ago.
This Apple thing is a mess that never needed to happen. Why, oh why, can't publishers play in the same sand box without kicking, screaming and playing king of the pitiful sand castle? Other industries manage to play together, but the intelligentsia, oh no, not us.
I was having lunch at the MPA-AMC conference last week with a very major publisher who is deeply involved with the creation of digital magazines. His titles have had great notoriety and a fair amount of success. To make a point in this conversation I devised an analogy that a few days later still makes a great sense to me.
I want to shine the light on an issue that I think warrants discussion by our industry. For lack of a better term, I have been calling it PIP-that is, paranoia in publishing. Here is the core of the issue: We believe that publishing will survive and be quite lucrative for many of the industry's smartest folks, but we can't quite figure out whether we will be part of that group-or part of that survival. And that is the terrible sadness of it.
There is a new research report released by the analysts at mediaIDEAS that answers the ever-asked question, is print dead?
The answer of course is, no, we are neither dead nor dying, but the analysis also suggests a near moment in time when digital revenues will surpass print revenues for publishers. So, it isn’t about death, but rather about the realignment of our resources and expectations.
There is so much hype going on now about publishing and the iPad that I am just sick of it. The disease is self-inflicted hype-itis. It is apparently very catching, so be warned. The iPad will not all by itself save the publishing industry.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.