Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Addendum to Emap story

This is a very interesting addition to the debate, from the Guardian's blogs editor, via journalism.co.uk.

Plus, it looks as though the sharks may be backing off - or does this mean they are circling? The financial outlook is "weak" apparently.

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Emap jumps in ... again

Will it be second time lucky in the digital publishing world for Emap?

The multi-platform media company splurged suddenly and massively – or at least promised to – at the tail end of the first dotcom boom before withdrawing just as rapidly with charred fingers.

But now there is a New Plan which will involve "incubators", "reverse publishing" and "video content".

Dress it up how you will, that still sounds a bit old fashioned, a bit top down and not very Web 2.0. One reason could be that Emap has not yet given up chasing the money which, being a publicly quoted company that is currently flopping around like a wounded fish in a world full of investment capital sharks, it can't do. Not for CEO Tom Moloney the Jeff Jarvis creed of casting your fate to the readership communities; not for Dharmash Mistry the space-age notion of allowing the people who consume your product to be much more involved in the production of it.

I am sure there will be some solid commercial payback for Emap, and its market leading titles are not going to disappear any time soon, but when titles slide they slide suddenly (see FHM) and steeply.

McKinsey, the major league business consultants who have been drafted in to help build up profits again, do not seem like the kind of outfit to advocate wholesale change, and I don't think they will be very helpful in this situation.

New plan or not, Emap is at risk of getting left behind.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Indian print media loses readers

BBC Magazines, among others, have rushed to fill an apparent demand for print magazines in India but this report seems to indicate there there is, at least, a downward blip in print readership. The report does not indicate where those readers might have gone but other commentators have suggested a switch to digital media.

Perhaps lots of people have stopped buying a newspaper because they can now buy Hello (which is, of course, jointly published by BBC Worldwide).

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Camera mag gets fatter

IPC's decision to fold trad snapper title What Camera? into What Digital Camera? has resulted in a fatter (200 pages), cheaper (£3.99 from £4.20) and more community-aware magazine.

The interesting question to consider is the grounds on which this decision was made.

Clearly the traditional print photography market has been in decline for some time (although this report suggests that digital photography may also have an unsettled future), but perhaps there's more than simple market economics behind IPC's decision.

Monthly magazine sales have also shown a decline (enough to dent profits at Menzies retail outlets) and while some of this can be attributed to the fall from popularity of previous big sellers like FHM and loaded, it is not impossible that publishers have finally found the limits to price elasticity in the market for monthly magazines.

In other words, magazines may now cost too much to be regular discretionary purchases. By combining the two titles into one fatter, cheaper magazine – with more emphasis on digital communication too – IPC may possibly be leading the way in amalgamation and consolidation.

When the market is expanding and consumers are spending, publishers have tended to surround their major titles with lesser, more specialised spin-offs. This has the combined effect of raising the cost of entry to market for potential rivals, tying advertisers more tightly to one "brand" and mopping up excess discretionary spending.

In opposite conditions it might make sense to pull everything back into one monolithic, totally dominant title.

Watch out for further amalgamation - or the sell off of the lesser titles to smaller rivals.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Links for 21/3

No time to write the deathless prose but here are some links which reveal changes in the structure of the political economy of magazine publishing:

Consumer mags in India

Menzies profits down

This is how to do it

Magicalia buys more print mags

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