To the surprise of many, including myself, print publications are making a comeback. Over the past few years some print publications including consumer magazines have become more popular and are selling more subscriptions. As to newspapers, the New York Times has increased its subscriptions and has even set a goal of having fifteen million online subscribers by 2027.
But before we get excited about the rebirth of print publications, we must remember that print publications across the board have been on the decline since the early 2000s. The publishers usually point the finger at the internet as the cause of their problems, and most everyone agrees: the internet has played a significant role in changing how people around the globe receive information.
What’s happening is that the gossip publications, celebrity news, and even most fashion magazines are the ones having the roughest times. The reason: readers can find so much gossip, celebrity news, and fashion options online that those print publications are no longer able to secure their niche and keep subscribers.
Plus, this type of information is known as “quick news.” It’s here today, everyone finds out about it, and then it’s over. Reporting on it in one of these publications a week or a month from now, unless the publication uncovers some new juicy insights, simply does not draw much interest.
Print Publications on the Upswing
Conversely, publications such as The Economist in the U.K. has seen print sales and subscriptions rise. And, along with the New York Times, Time Magazine in the U.S. is gaining subscribers as well.
Why are these publications and other news-focused publications flourished? According to Amol Rajan, former media editor for the BBC, commenting in 2017, “Serious times call for serious journalism, and an extraordinarily frantic news agenda over the past year  — with Brexit, Trump, and terror attacks — has driven sales boosts for upmarket titles.” This is also the year many print publications reported that they saw a turnaround, with subscriptions on the upswing.
According to another media expert, Ian Burrell, “Many readers are hungry for a deeper understanding of the fast-moving changes in global news and politics.” They are not finding this deeper understanding online. In fact, what they are finding online all too often tends to be political, with one side saying one side about a news item and the other telling another. Some, as we know, are outright fabrications.
Niche Publications Doing Well
However, it is not just traditionally credible print news publications that are surviving if not thriving — consumer magazines catering to specific interests also are doing well. For instance, as of 2018, the last year stats were available, the three fastest-growing publications in the U.S. were:
- Motorcyclist, for motorcycling enthusiasts.
- Town and Country, for readers focused on high-end, stylish living.
- Men’s Magazine, which covers so many topics, it is often viewed as a self-improvement publication just for men.
But here is another takeaway from these reports. Just as certain consumer print publications have proven themselves over the years and are doing well, many trade publications are also finding their footing in the digital age and discovering ways to do well as well.
Most have already established themselves as reliable, credible publications that B2B purchasers can count on, especially when making purchasing decisions. And, they all serve specific industries. In other words, if you are in the cleaning or HVAC industry, you’re likely going to turn to that industry’s publication to learn what is new, happening, and trending in those industry sectors. Where else can they turn to for this information?
That impulse from readers is exactly what is keeping these trade publications afloat.
More on trade publications can be found here.