Apologies to the good Mr. Clemens, but we can’t resist drawing a comparison to the supposed death of the American writer in 1897 and the almost daily obituaries dedicated to sending print into the great beyond.
Even the non-industry satire site The Onion got into the fun last week, declaring “Print Dead at 1,803” and offering a send-up obit with tongue firmly in cheek.
Sure, we get the joke. And we can laugh at ourselves enough to know that yes, the industry has changed and digital has taken hold as a legitimate channel to deliver our words. And yes, the growing popularity of iPads and tablets means some readers are going online instead of turning the pages.
Still, we share the sentiments expressed in last week’s article in MediaDaily that asks “…why did Dr. Oz — whose good sense and business savvy few would doubt – announce recently that he is launching a new lifestyle magazine with Hearst?”
Why indeed. Perhaps the lingering reports of print’s demise are a hangover from 2009 when spending on all types of advertising contracted due to an economy on life support. That very well could be the case. Let’s take a look at some of print’s current vital statistics:
- Today there are nearly 312 million print magazines in circulation in the U.S., almost one per person. (MediaDaily)
- 200 new magazine titles launched in 2012, up 7% over the previous year. (MediaFinder)
- Profits in the U.S. print industry were up every quarter in 2010 & 2011. (PrintIsBig.com)
- While newsstand sales of magazines are down about 10%, online orders for the same printed publications continued to climb via sites like Amazon and other discount distributors.
So why the disconnect? Maybe it’s just the way we do the math. While digital readership is climbing quickly, it still makes up only a 1.45 of total magazine readership. It’s a tiny slice of a huge, $40,000,000,000 (yes, that’s billion) pie. Even at the current growth estimate of just under 1% (Yahoo Finance), that’s still a whopping $400,000,000 chunk of new revenue.
Time for a second opinion. Print looks mighty robust from where we sit.