the circle of LIFE, mcCall’s, and national lampoon

It’s an undeniable fact that the magazine publishing industry is changing rapidly. Titles that once seemed as certain as death and/or taxes have shuffled off this mortal coil in the face of rising costs, decreased readership, and competition from electronic platforms. And with the recent end of Newsweek‘s print edition, the internets have been all ablaze with armchair pundits claiming that the end of magazines is nigh.

However, there are also those in the industry who feel that the death of the magazine industry has been greatly exaggerated. Bob Sacks (a.k.a. BoSacks) claims that publishers are going through a process akin to that of Darwin’s natural selection, and that the death of some magazines is “a normal process of the genre.” In fact, Sacks recently tweeted:

Magazines are born, live a wholesome life and eventually die. These normal deaths can take 130 years like McCall’s or a one issue quick death.”

If Sacks is right, then magazine publishers are going to have to adapt and embrace the changes to the industry, rather than trying to ride them out. For better or worse, digital magazines have gone well past the milestone of “hot new trend” and are on their way to becoming an industry standard.

Back in 2009, Wired editor Chris Anderson popularized the term “freemium” and claimed that it would eventually become the dominant business model. In the publishing industry, we now see digital magazines that are distributed for free, relying only on ad revenue to turn a profit. There are also digital publishers who have embraced the micropayment strategy made popular by Apple’s iTunes store, and now offer individual articles and excerpts from their magazines for download.

With the addition of these digital options, magazine readers today have more choices than ever on how and where they receive their news, recipes, and exercise tips. The magazine publishing industry isn’t dying. At Synapse, we’ve built our business on subscription services, and we fully intend to remain relevant in this industry, no matter what changes may come.