Globally, the print market is growing again. It’s probably, at least in part, a side effect of the pandemic — as more people sought tangible contact with their favorite reading material. This year the CAGR on print is predicted to hit $313.28 billion — an 8.8% increase over 2020. This is the most concrete indicator, thus far, that digital content isn’t the bogeyman we feared. Print can compete. What should publishers do to further increase the longevity of print publications?
Print media still matters in a digital world
Everyone knows print media has struggled. Between fewer title launches and some inevitable closures, it would be hard to assert otherwise. But stubbornness and creativity have carved out new niches for printed content, and publishers continue to contribute approximately $97 billion to the global economy each year.
As one industry expert says, “Given the horrendous trading conditions, to see 113 new products come on to the newsstands shows that the magazine business is still very much alive. Yet it continues to change rapidly. True digital-only magazine launches are rare. The vast majority have a print companion alongside digital platforms. Yet that print product is becoming lower frequency, lower volume, higher-priced and — usually — better quality in terms of pages.”
During the pandemic, the growth of existing — and launches of new — publications in specific print categories, such as cookery, puzzles, gardening, health and fitness, and mindfulness brought new hope to the print publishing industry. Children’s magazines accounted for one-quarter of 2020’s launches — providing a much-needed break from digital content for audiences stuck with online learning. Many of these new releases are products of smaller presses driven by a passion for the content. Their magazines are niche-focused, cost a bit more, and garner a luxury-centric audience willing to pamper themselves with the print sensory experience.
So, does print still matter? Of course! But, arguably more important, the data shows print can still compete.
Note, for instance, that 80% of digital viewers claim they have never clicked on a banner ad. This alone might indicate to sponsors where their advertising dollars should go.
2021 creative magazine launches
2020 saw 60 new magazine launches. WNIP called it “almost a miracle.” Not to be outdone, 2021 launched more innovative new titles, such as:
- Huck, a smart magazine following politics, art, and cultural trends set to make some serious waves in the future.
- Yolo Journal, a magazine for lovers of everything beautiful, transformative, and informative about travel.
- Whalebone, a delightfully hipster bi-monthly publication billing itself as “possibly the ninth-best magazine in the world.”
- Whetstone, a more-than-a-food magazine that explores the cultural and physical origins of your food.
Launching a new venture during a global pandemic may sound counterintuitive, but the magazines born during the COVID-19 chaos enjoyed a captive audience desperate for a little escapism. There’s evidence the prices of these publications are rising in sync with their quality, proving consumers are more than willing to pay for print content when it matters to them. Publishers know this and are working to expand their reach with subscription models. What trends should publishers be watching? Less advertising, higher prices, better quality content, and more pay-to-play opportunities.
Keeping magazines alive after COVID
Like any other large-scale, life altering event, people will come to regard COVID in terms of “before” and “after.” The pandemic continues to disrupt every industry — and every household. Can a print magazine survive trends induced by a global public health crisis? What’s next for print, and how can print publishers stay ahead of the curve?
WNIP anticipates an increasing downturn in print publishing’s advertising dependence. Diversification of income streams is a smart move, particularly today. To improve your publication’s odds of survival, consider incorporating digital contributor events, increased ecommerce initiatives, and other creative methods for growing subscriptions and adding value for existing readers.