Here are some of the recent news items that make a “print guy” in the magazine industry feel like a marked man:
Hype-rventilationMany so-called leaders of the publishing industry have gone ga-ga over the Apple Newsstand, with some recent excitement about the top 100 sellers racking up sales of a whopping $70,000 every day. The top 100 U.S. and Canadian magazine titles on the real newsstand (the ink-on-paper one that's been left for dead) generate $70,000 in sales about once every 19 minutes.
And never mind that most of the Apple Newsstand money is coming from subscriptions, which in the print world are bringing in even more money than single-copy sales.
Seventy Gs a day is chump change for Apple, a rounding error on its bottom line. Print copies of Steve Jobs’ biography are probably selling better. Apple's Newsstand has brought a smidgen of order to the chaos of the App Store, but it's way too early to call it successful.
Cart before the horseJoining the Apple Newsstand on the recent "2012 Folio 40" list of magazine industry innovators is a Rodale executive chosen because of his work on repositioning the company’s digital magazine editions. Sounds impressive, but this quote kills me:
“We’ll start monetizing soon.” Rodale is a pretty innovative publisher (innovative publisher: Is that an oxymoron?), so the projects’ prospects are pretty good. But shouldn’t a product actually start making money before we hoist the “Mission Accomplished” banner?
What is this, a hobby or a business? I'd say the real hero at Rodale is the person or people who built the "Eat This Not That!" empire. But I suppose that's too print-oriented to be hip.
Newspapers have been the fastest shrinking industry in the U.S. during the past five years, according to a LinkedIn analysis.
No surprise there. Even this old print dinosaur, who not long ago didn’t know his RSS from a hole in the ground, is constantly amazed at how U.S. newspapers don’t “get” the web and aren’t doing enough to remake their bread-and-butter subscription products.
But a lot of people would say the same thing about my industry. Are newspapers our canary in the coal mine?
Is this is good news or bad?
An article in the latest Best Graduate Schools annual bookazine profiles two mid-life career changers who were laid off from their previous jobs – a 25-year veteran of International Paper’s Franklin, VA paper mill and a 22-year circulation employee of the San Francisco Chronicle. Both opted for community college, rather than grad school, to enter more promising careers, one in healthcare radiography and the other as a cook.
“When a career path deadends or the thrill just burns out, a class or two at a community college can inspire, relatively cheaply, a whole new direction,” advises the U.S. News and World Report publication.
It’s no comfort being associated with a line of work that’s become a poster child for dead-end careers. But it’s encouraging to hear that some burned-out, middle-aged ink-on-paper dinosaurs have found ways to avoid career extinction.
Hmm, I wonder how I’d be as a nurse.
- 34 Tricks Print Mags Can Do That Apps Can’t: My recent article for Publishing Executive, when I was in a more optimistic mood about printed magazines.
- Print Is Dead? Not For This Growing Publication Niche: If I lost you with that reference to "bookazine" (AKA "book-a-zine"), this article will explain how this type of printed magazine is defying the decline of the newsstand system.
- App-oplexy: Magazines on the iPad: Explores the difference between "Lick of the Day" and "Sex Position of the Day".
- 12 Telltale Signs That You Are A Printing Geek: Evidence that I'm not always grumpy about being a print geek.
- Not Dead Yet: If you want an antidote to my print-is-dead pessimism, check out this little video that Noelle Skodzinski used to open the recent Publishing Business Conference with a laugh. Alas, Noelle, who showed us all how to extend a magazine brand into multiple media without neglecting the actual magazine, has since left her post as editor of Publishing Executive and Book Business.