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Print is Dead? Someone better tell Bessie.

COW Blogs : Ron Lindeboom's Blog : Print is Dead? Someone better tell Bessie.
I keep reading publishers bemoaning the state of the publishing world and decrying the fact that print is dying. They quote statistics that back up their suppositions and while these "facts" appear true, I have to scratch my head and wonder why they cannot seem to see the forest for all the dead trees they have proffered over the years.

Why is print dying? Well, I hate to tell them, it's not -- it's their magazines and view points that are dying. There are other magazines, of which Creative COW Magazine is one example, that are doing very well and are growing and thriving. In many industries you will find these "exceptions" to the general market malaise and decline in publishing. Tim Wilson and I regularly discuss these issues and analyze and examine the magazines that fail and the ones that are thriving in spite of the perceived general market apathy.

So, what makes some magazines fail while others excel?

The reason is simple: there is a lack of real content in many once successful magazines today. Many onetime industry leading magazines are now made up of paid stories and features that many readers suspect to be the outcome of advertiser purchases. Some magazines in our own industry have been putting paid advertorial pieces on the cover as their lead story. This is crazy to us, and will compromise the integrity of any publication. I remember when I loved some of the magazines in this industry, years ago. Nowadays, there are some that I haven't read a single article of any importance in a long, long time. In a survey of many of our members, we hear the same thing and we get many letters that come in after every issue of Creative COW Magazine thanking us for the content.

Here's one we received the other day:
"I just wanted to tell you that your 'New Visions' Issue is the best issue of any industry magazine I've read since the DGA [Directors Guild of America] stopped printing Action. Thank you for the intelligent, informative, entertaining articles on paper." -- Jim Long, Pegasus Productions

And this one just came in today from a teacher at a high school in Louisiana who left this comment as she signed up for the Creative COW Magazine:
"Your newsletter has helped me greatly in the classroom. Helps me to keep my skills polished. As an educator, sometimes we get a bit set in our ways. Your newsletters, tutorials, and articles keep my students guessing as to what their next project will be and has taught them and myself more tricks and shortcuts. We used to only get 2 projects a quarter completed, now we are able to double the production and at a higher degree of difficulty. Constant source of inspiration - Thanks Cow Team! -- Heather Lampo, Grace King High School, Metairie, Louisiana"

Thank you Jim, Heather and all of the many of you who write us and tell us that you see the work behind what we do for the audience here at Creative COW. Your kind words and votes of confidence are truly appreciated.

When we look at the state of the publishing industry, we are amazed that so few seem to grasp the simple formula that will guarantee that your magazine will have an audience of eager, enthusiastic readers -- serve that audience. Yet most magazines seem to have opted for the kinds of compromises that serve their accounting department more than their audience. That kind of focus is sure to put smiles on the faces of stockholders (for a short while anyway), but it is guaranteed (almost every time) to remove the smiles from readers who want and expect honest and forthright communication and value in their stories.

Serve the audience, that seems a simple formula for success.



Comments

Seems like content is what matters, of you can call it that!
by Jiggy Gaton
Darn, I can't find the great interactive graphic article on the NYT that showed all the ad page sales for top magazines in the past few years, and those that failed as their advertising income dropped to near zero. I tried to search for that article using the NYT search widget, but just got garbage & search errors. (While NYT should get an award for it's online multimedia, they need to go back and rethink their search engine.)

But what I did notice was with the magazines that failed, it had a lot to do with the content:

Is the content relevant relative to a point in time, like the time we live in?

For example, most of the Home and Garden rags were suffering, during a time when housing values have plummeted and who is really thinking about adding a rec room anyway.

Is the content more outrageous then it's competitors?

Seems that in the gossip category, the covers with the wildest gossip was doing ok, while those with just ho-hum covers were in the dumpster.

Is the content fantasy or fact?

All the traditional news rags seemed to be in trouble as far as ad page counts go. Even putting Obama on the cover does not seem to help. I'm thinking this is a sad statement in how much we trust professional journalists these days, or how much we are really interested in the truth as magazine readers.

Is the content going to fix my problems?

The financial rags that failed to report the dubious practices that led the world into a financial mess, are still doing well, as it seems we are looking there for answers on how to dig ourselves out.

So i guess a new formula could be created from that analysis: a magazine that is relevant to current events, outrageous, fantastical, and fixes concrete problems might be one to survive. But that's just a guess, as it seems readers are as fickle as advertisers, and that may change in any direction at any time.

Well, thx for the great post Ron!

Jigs in Nepal

Give the people what they want
by Tim Wilson
Mike wrote: "...if not diversified, then, like the COW, serve a known audience..."

We're doing both...because our known audience is so diverse!

One of the things we've found is that, because the Cow is growing so ridiculously fast, we have to scramble to keep up with who are our audience IS, and who it's becoming. We try to do some justice to who those folks are as we find them -- hence, devoting multiple articles in each issue to each subject -- but it has been virtually impossible to keep up. Certainly makes for a diverse magazine though!

The bottom line for us is that there's only one "secret" for a successful print magazine: make a magazine that people want to read.

Print is Dead - Long Live Print!
by Mike Cohen
As an employee with a boutique medical publisher, I can tell you that print is alive and well. One must stay diversified in order to weather the storm - or if not diversified, then, like the COW, serve a known audience with a service that is unmatched in quality and not duplicated in other available options.

Mike Cohen





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