Monday, September 8, 2008

Mass Market Print - down. Hyper Niche Print - up.

In my non blog life, my professional practice is focused on developing Print products published for audiences of 30 and 150. The idea is that as the mass market fragments, an emerging value for print is to serve well defined niche markets. Newspapers and magazines continue to move towards niche publications. Digital printing enables hyper niche publications.

At the scale of newspapers and magazines, Stephen Glover, writing for the Independent shows how this is playing out in the UK.

Stephen Glover On The Press: A periodical reminder of why the press needs to get more serious
"Remarkably, at a time when nearly all newspapers are losing sales, and celebrity and men's magazines are reporting significant circulation losses, the cerebral weeklies and monthlies continue to grow. In the first half of this year the circulation of The Oldie climbed 15.5 per cent, to 28,862, compared with the same period last year. The Spectator rose 5.1 per cent, to 76,952; the UK sale of The Economist grew by 5.6 per cent year on year to 182,539. . . .

These magazines are evidently providing what many readers want, albeit in a smaller market than the newspaper one, and their success shows that the negative trend against the printed word on newsprint is not a universal one. . . .

They are more ruminative, and less time-sensitive, than newspapers, and there is no advantage in reading The Economist or The Week on-line. On the contrary, there are few greater innocent pleasures in this life than curling up on a sofa, or on a rug in the garden, or even on the train, with a decent magazine in one's hands.

But to bang on too much about the internet as the distinguishing factor between newspapers and magazines seems to me rather dangerous. If weeklies and monthlies are putting on sales while so-called quality newspapers are losing them, it is partly because they are doing something better.

These cerebral magazines provide more considered, and sometimes longer, articles, than are available in most quality newspaper supplements. Some are wittier, others simply more authoritative. They tend also to have a better sense of their readers.
The next thing is to locate the hyper niche markets that go past "cerebral." Then the trick is to figure out how to make money with niche and hyper-niche publications. Business models are becoming more clear, but I will leave that for another day.

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