Three-year-old Hallmark magazine announced yesterday that they are shutting down the magazine and website, siting "difficult economic times, especially for magazines". The New York Post says that Conde Nast ad pages are down 30 percent, versus the industry average of 24 percent. (Conde Nast is Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, was Domino.)
However, Cathie Black, President of Hearst Magazines (O, the Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen) writes in Advertising Age on Monday, "Despite Recent Events, the American Magazine is Not an Endangered Species". She says "According to the Magazine Publishers of America, only 32 magazines suspended publication in 2008 -- an infinitesimal percentage of the 19,500 magazines currently published in the U.S." She compares this slow-down to what occurred in 1991, and discusses how magazines not only rebounded, but expanded significantly after that downturn.
One, I am stunned that this country has 19,500 magazines. Clearly, there is a magazine covering everything and apparently hundreds on each topic!
Secondly, "I'm not sure I agree with you 100 percent on your police work there", Cathie. I'm not sure you can use the comparison to 1991 as comfort. The web media component is very different than it was 18 years ago. (I was just at a web media seminar, you know, so after 48 hours, I am somewhat of an expert!) I still say, magazines in their traditional print medium are going to continue to drop like flies. Will the current titles survive in an on-line version? If they know how to make the transition, they will. (But they better hurry.) Otherwise, their lunch is going to be eaten by the on-line presences that are already out there who understand how to use an "instant" medium and already have loyal readership.
So, for those of us that love lying around reading magazines on paper, buy a good printer or start collecting current issues.