By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief, US Daily Review
Let me just start by stating that I love magazines (I actually have as many as 6 or 7 subscriptions at any one time). For many years I wanted to eventually have a magazine of my own, but with economic drivers being as there are (and reflected in this column), a website such as USDailyReview.com was much more sensible. In spite of the pounding that print has faced in general due to the Internet, new magazines still seem to be popping up, but their future is still doubtful since with every new one there are several that fail. I believe that magazines are shrinking, both in size and importance, and this is reflected by the following indicators:
- Cheaper than ever. The price of a subscription must be less than it costs to mail it, let alone print it. Magazines that people paid $20 to $30 a year 5 years ago, cost around $10 today. In fact, $10 seems to be the going rate for such publications. This is their desperate attempt to convince businesses of the large number of people that are seeing their advertisements. Magazines are finding it difficult to keep up with the growing online viewership.
- The number of pages are declining. I’m sure this is related to the number of ads purchased (there is a formula of number of ads, justifying the number of pages of content). Many of my favorite magazines are anywhere from 2/3rds to half of the size they use to be.
- Magazines play a copy cat role. Magazines are looking more and more like printed websites. Since you can access most sites for free and they have direct links to other articles, that can’t bode well for magazines. The recent moves towards charging for content online might be a game changer for magazines, but I have my doubts.
- The growth of the “third screen” (mobile devices) makes it possible for people to access numerous “magazines” through out the day. Increasingly I use my Google Android to access articles. The content is free (at least what I read) and my selections are virtually unlimited.
Still, I love magazines and I would not be surprised if I increase my subscriptions (since they practically give them away). But an ominous cloud hangs over the future of all print publications.