Printed Magazines and Newspapers – Will there be a demand tomorrow?

6 03 2012

Someone asked me the other day if I thought newspapers and magazines would be around for much longer. As a printer I hope they will be ……….as a technology and gadget lover, I doubt it.

Large run daily newspapers and weekly magazines look set to come under threat as the next generation of readers matures. The main threat is the “touch revolution”. Readers such as Amazon’s “kindle” and the growing range of tablets that are available are already touting mobile versions of newspapers, magazines and comics. The increased connectivity that these devices offer and the variety of reader personalisation, is seen by some, to herald the end of the newspaper as we know it.

Like many of us, I do enjoy sitting down to read the newspaper. However, if I’m honest, it’s really only on the weekend that I have time to sit back, relax and actually read my way through a whole newspaper. Mostly, I quickly flick through a paper, scanning the headlines and looking for anything of interest. Wouldn’t it be great if I could get a “newspaper”, or magazine, delivered that only had articles and news on the subjects that I was interested in? Without all the extra pages of things that I am not interested in (and would probably never read). There are three quite different ways that this is achievable (and happening as you read this blog).

  1. Digitally Printed  Magazines & Newspapers – with inkjet digital printers and advanced web to print solutions now entering the market, it will become economic to print newspapers and magazines on demand. This means that “subscribers” will be able to choose topics, articles, products and events that they want to make up their magazine (from a list provided by the publisher). These newspapers and magazines can be printed on a digital press and each copy will be printed to the subscriber’s preferences – it is likely that each copy will have the subscriber’s name printed throughout it (for easy postage on the front and personalised advertising). This will probably be good news for many publishers as advertising can be matched to the chosen, products, services and particular interests of the subscriber – and many of the magazines will contain fewer pages (none of the stuff you normally skip).
  2. Mobile Magazines and Papers – Many applications are springing up that allow you to choose format, pages, topics and subjects that your subscription magazine, paper, comic or periodical contains………..and have it delivered directly to your mobile device. You can even choose the frequency you receive the publications. Software enabling publishers to mobilise (and personalise) their products are springing up regularly: (see Flipboard, Pulse, Zite, Livestand).
  3. News, blogs or social aggregators – aggregators are software that search and organise content on the web. You can choose broad concepts such as “latest news” or define it to particular topics. Similar software is likely to be developed and used by publishers to personalise magazines and newspapers for the extra connectivity required today. In effect, you can create your own daily news updates or magazines.

All this new technology could be good news for the environment.The print industry has probably taken up the environmental challenge better than most industries. Most paper production is become sustainable and forestry is being managed by most of the world’s major governments. The dirty manufacturing processes of paper and ink is fast becoming a bad memory and printing may soon even be responsible for a growth in forestry around the globe. Even so, it remains a fact that 40% of printed office material is trashed the day it is printed………..and the use of paper (printed in the office) has double twice since the 1980’s. So the possibility of reducing paper usage in high volume pulp users (such as magazines and newspapers) will prove to be very popular.

Apart from tablets and smart-phones there is some other interesting mobile hardware in development. One of the most interesting of these is the flexible video screen. Sony has put some effort into this and has come up with a working model. Right now it is not mobile – but I guess that will be available within a few years. This provides the potential to give us a reusable newspaper – simply roll the paper out each day and upload the latest copy and pics directly onto it. The idea behind this is that you will be able to get the feel of holding a “newspaper”  but the content will change every day. Something directly out of Harry Potter – but it could be here in a few years!

I guess that one of the clearest, loudest messages for the publishing industry is the news that Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the United States, would be run by Laura Lang. Lang was the chief executive of the digital advertising agency Digitas…………obviously some execs have a fairly pointed idea of where things are heading. At the same time big name developers are releasing software that enables fast, easy publication(of existing publications) to the web (see Adobe Digital Publisher and Apple Newstand) –  it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where things are heading.

The bean counters amongst us (and the hardcopy diehards) will point to the news that the Australian print and publication industry reported a 3.5% growth last year. However, the largest growth was reported specifically in the packaging and digital print areas. Other interesting figures show US magazine circulation falling by 15% in the past two years (they stayed fairly static in the 18 years prior to that). In those same 18 years the number of US titles increased by 50% as publishers developed a successful strategy to keep numbers up. US newspaper ad revenues have also dropped 65% since 2002. Interestingly, on-line advertising has only made up for 10% of these lost ad revenues. So where have they all gone? Although reduced marketing budgets have probably been the main reason for reduced ad revenue, it is very interesting to note that mobile advertising has experienced exponential growth for the past three years straight.

So will magazines and newspapers be around tomorrow……….I think so – but – I think they will be a speciality/novelty item by the time my kids are my age.

As usual please let me know if you want any more information relating to anything in my blogs.

I also have some A2 calendars available free to good homes. They depict scenes of CHCH. Just let me know if you would like some and I will drop off for you.


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