I read an intriguing article the other day featured in BoSack’s e-newsletter, “Heard on the Web”, titled “When Niche is Nicer: The True Winners in the Magazine Wars”. Clare Kermond wrote about the new darlings and bright lights of the magazine world – niche publications. Readership is on the rise with these passion-fueled pubs – not to mention cover prices.
While big circulation mainstream magazines continue to lose readers and try to stop the bleeding by lowering cover prices and increasing paid advertising, niche publications are enjoying a neo-renaissance of sorts, with a surprising twist. Niche magazines are for the fervent followers, those obsessed with an interest or lifestyle who view the magazine as not only being uniquely for them, but as a form of art, even a collectable. Readers put a premium on these magazines, literally, by readily paying higher than average cover prices, and choosing print as their medium of choice.
The business model for these niche publications often includes subsidy from related events and special issues, and point-of-purchase at specialty stores or niche-related venues, vs. typical newsstand outposts. Articles are often deep dives, exploring every minute facet of a topic with the enthusiast in mind. This writing style yields pieces with a longer shelf life, and the aforementioned opportunity for custom publication.
So what does all this have to do with Sheridan? After all, we’re print and publishing services providers, not niche magazine publishers. Ah, but not so 100 years ago.
We are celebrating our centennial in 2015, with a newfound appreciation for our roots. Our flagship plant, The Sheridan Press, began 100 years ago in Hanover, PA, as a magazine dreamed up by a local entrepreneur who was fascinated by breeder chickens. He bought a letterpress and set up shop himself in the back of the newspaper company he owned. Within a decade, his little publication, affectionately titled Everybodys (sic) Poultry Magazine, was enjoying world-wide circulation! That’s not just chicken-feed (groan). Many more enthusiast publications would follow, such as Spinning Wheel and Chipper Snacker.
Over time, The Sheridan Press relinquished the publishing role and transitioned to print and publishing services exclusively for scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publications. Sister companies emerged, specializing in book printing, magazine and catalog printing, and composition and editorial services. Today, collectively we are known as Sheridan, with a global presence, a diverse and amazing customer base, and limitless gratitude for the opportunity to continue to serve the publishing world.
And today, Sheridan still has a stake in the niche magazine arena, as print and digital provider to many wonderful niche magazines. We understand the challenges, the passion, and the tenacity it takes to turn a dream into a reality. We were born niche and that’s no yolk.
My apologies for the puns – I can’t seem to help myself – but I hope you’ll agree that this barnyard tale of passion for poultry is something we at Sheridan can crow about.