Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Should magazine publishers follow the record companies?

Anyone old enough to have been buying music in the 1980s will remember that, almost overnight, vinyl LPs and singles disappeared from record shops, to be replaced by jewel-boxed CDs.

This did not just happen. It was, I seem to remember having read somewhere, a concerted and collaborative effort by the industry to rid the world of old-fashioned, expensive, delicate and somewhat craft-based records in favour of digital, cheaper, robust and industrially more efficient Compact Discs.

An article on the uptake of tablet magazines posted by Bo Sacks in his daily newsletter has made me wonder whether the magazine industry should follow suit.

Here's the paragraph that caught my attention:

Three years after Apple unveiled the iPad and revolutionized the way consumers interact with content, tablets still account for a tiny share of magazine readership-just 3.3 percent of total circulation. Not taking into account the top-selling digital title, Game Informer, which boasts nearly 3 million digital copies, the number slips to 2.3 percent.
Perhaps magazine publishers should follow the example of the record industry all those years ago. If there are no print magazines (vinyl LPs) to buy, people will be forced to buy tablet subscriptions (CDs) instead.

Of course, there would probably be a lot of unhappy newsagents and supermarkets, not to mention distributors, printers and paper companies, but it solves the problem at a stroke, does it not?

And it would allow us to really test all those ideas about how much people love their magazines and form social bonds with them, wouldn't it?

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