PUBLICATION PRINTING OUTLOOK --Challenging Issues
Mags Thinning Out
From his perspective, John Paloian, COO of Quebecor World North America in Greenwich, CT, says 2002 has been a year of remarkably "thin" magazines, with a few notable exceptions. "Publishers have focused on aggressively managing their (subscriber) lists with a net reduction of five to 10 percent in overall run lengths for many titles," he reports. "However, the continued softness in the paper market has led many publishers to refrain from the traditional cost cutting measures of converting to lighter basis weight stock and making further reductions in trim sizes. In fact, a few titles are considering implementing an increase in size."
Available industry statistics confirm that there has been a decline in new title launches. As one example, Paloian cites data gathered by Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni, Ph.D., Hederman Lecturer and professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi. Husni is a recognized authority on the magazine publishing sector.
According to the professor's tracking data, 426 titles have been launched in 2002 through the end of August. That's an eight percent reduction from the 463 titles launched through August of 2001, with the total count for that year being 700 new magazines. Those numbers, in turn, represent about a 20 percent decrease from the 2000 totals of 585 launches through August and 874 for the entire year, the printing exec adds.
Additionally, the MPA reports that 39 titles have ceased publication through September of this year, which compares to 119 titles for all of 2001 and a total of 37 closures in 2000, Paloian notes.
"Our expectations are that many publishers, particularly in the business-to-business sector, will continue to experience a soft year for most, if not all, of 2003," he reveals. "Competition for advertising dollars remains very competitive among all media, as well as within the magazine segment. Many of the bigger publishers continue to find some success in the custom publishing arena, as single-source "loyalty" magazines gain some momentum. Cross-marketing of multiple titles, as well as a publisher's entire media portfolio, also remains a point of positive differentiation for those who can effectively develop and execute an attractive advertising package.