Are magazines doomed, too? « BuzzMachine

Condé Nast folds Portfolio even as it starts Wired in print in the U.K. So which are we to take as the harbinger for the future of magazines?

I hate to be calling doom for yet another medium, but I fear that Portfolio is the better indicator. We’ll see magazines fold and it’s going to be a lot riskier to start new ones to replace them — riskier because, just as on TV and in movies and music, it’s harder to create a blockbuster and consumer magazines depend on the blockbuster economy. Magazines don’t make money until they hit magic numbers of circulation (which comes only after renewals reduce marketing costs) and advertising (which is sold at heavy premiums and that market is bound to suffer both in a recession and against unlimited competition from online). In the U.S. market, subscriptions are so heavily discounted ($1 per issue for a product that can cost $5 or more to print and distribute) and marketing costs are so high (subscriber acquisition can hit $20 or $30) that the risk is only greater.

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