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Is the Magazine Industry Really Dying?

Kari Brownsberger

Last weekend, several of my friends and I took a trip to Michigan for a few days of fun and relaxing on the beach.   Before I left, I made sure to pick up a few of my favorite magazines to enjoy on the trip.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one.  As we all sat on the beach, every single one of us had some reading material in hand, and the choice for the majority of us was a magazine.  I’m a big reader, but not all of my friends are, so this really got me thinking.  Despite all the gloom and doom predictions about print media these days, is the magazine industry really dying?

Yes, the Internet has overtaken all other forms of media as the way most of us get our information, especially for my generation.  But not one of us was sitting there reading from a phone, iPad, Kindle, or any other device.  And if you think about it, it makes sense why magazines are still a popular choice of reading material.  Magazines are easily portable, and you don’t have to worry about just throwing them in your bag and taking them along wherever you go.  You can find a magazine to suit just about anyone’s interests – not like a newspaper, which only has a few stories, or maybe a section, devoted to a certain topic.  Also unlike newspapers, a lot of magazines typically still have a ton of print-exclusive content.  Finally, their articles are usually not more than a few pages, so unlike books, they’re easy to pick up and put down.

I did some research, and it turns out my observations of my group of friends might not be that far off from the rest of the media-consuming world.  According to Samir "Mr. Magazine” Husni, Ph.D., the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, 68 new magazines were introduced in July of 2010.  Compare that with 58 titles in 2009, 54 titles in 2008, and 34 titles in 2007, and it looks like, amazingly enough, the magazine industry is growing.  Of course, this doesn’t take into account the magazines that have ceased publishing, but I take it as a good sign that the number of new magazine introductions has doubled from what it was just three years ago.

So, what does this mean for those of us in the PR world?  Stay on top of the new titles that are launching so you can build relationships with the editors and reporters from the start – when they’re especially hungry for content.  Sure, they might be small now, but even Glamour, Time, and Fast Company had to start somewhere, and who knows what the next big “must-read” title will be.