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.


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