Sunday, February 12, 2012

Madame Predicts the Future of Magazines

Gone but not forgotten and coming soon

Do we see a trend here? Just as Mark Twain remarked "The reports of my death are grossly exaggerated", I would like to predict that magazines are not dead yet. But they are evolving. And while it's unlikely we will see a full-blown rebirth of beloved lifestyle magazine Domino, last week Domino announced a "special newsstand edition" to be published this spring at the cover price of $10.00. And they are already planning issue number two. As is, whose second magazine about the fashion shows in New York, Paris, Milan and London will be out shortly. They are already offering one-year subscriptions @$11.99 for two issues.

The trend setter in this catagory might be Anthology, a "magabook" (souped-up oversized paperback) out of California that has just released its sixth quarterly issue, selling for $12.00. Each issue is lifestyle/personality driven with more text and expanded captions. I call it "aspirational journalism" because the stories profile real people and their actual, not-tricked-up homes as well as offbeat places to travel and the usual crafty projects and cookery. Everyone is young and attractive and seems to buy her clothes at Anthropologie. The magazine is printed on quality stock and is nicely designed. This one won't land in the trash all that soon.

Many moons ago when I was part of the then very healthy publishing world, we would receive complaints that the magazine had "too many ads". We all chortled as that meant not only that we all had jobs. It's long been cost-inefficient to send you a magazine as a subscriber. The price of postage and wood pulp was staggering even then. I can only wonder what it is today. It was the ads that paid the bills. And the more subscribers the more a periodical can charge for its ads. I cringed when I saw the blow-out postcard for Entertainment Weekly, 52 issues for $10.00!!! but signed on immediately.

Likewise one-shots of magazines are not new. Generally they repackage old material in a themed manner or use up extraneous stories that have already been photographed and/or written. But this limited release of special titles is a new wrinkle, and I'm loving it.

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