Print’s not dead!

By now, publishers have proven to the media industry again and again that magazines are meant to exist.

Although, keeping these publications alive isn’t without its challenges, and in some cases, it’s a labour of love.

So, how is printable to live on beyond the crisis? Well, some have found a new life by being reincarnated in another form, such as digital. Others have been revived like a phoenix out of the ashes by a new publisher.

media update’s Maryna Steyn takes you on an adventure about what's happening in the print industry.

What happened to print?

For printed magazines, the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hit at just the wrong time. Publications that were already barely surviving due to the continuous drop in sales took a huge hit. And with customers losing their income, this only escalated. Publishers then had to face the reality and shut down underperforming titles.

Caxton, for example, announced in May 2020 that June would be the last issue for Woman & Home. The same happened with House & Leisure, when Associated Media published its last issue for April / May 2020.

On top of the economic impact, the lockdown offered a variety of other challenges for print. In spite of many core editorial functions being able to continue with remote working conditions, hands-on tasks such as the printing, packaging and distribution of magazines came to a grinding halt.

Until now, that is ...

Why print magazines are surviving

A year down the road, there is a shining light. Magazines such as Business Traveller Africa and The Thembisan have resumed printing.

What’s more, a bunch of new titles have actually been released! These include Bruis, Mzanzi Travel, Koe’sister, Paws & More, SA Homeschooling and Ezase Mpumalanga News, to name a few.

Source: <i>SA Home Schooling<i/> on Facebook
Image sourced from Facebook

The reason for all these new publications is that, with the disappearance of specific magazines, there is a gap in the market where consumers’ needs aren't being met. With this, however, is the need to offer a product that fulfills these needs, but one that won’t end up in the exact same predicament as before.

Changes in printing schedules (such as a weekly publication being produced instead only every other week), and smaller print sizes contribute to keeping these titles on the shelf.

Another reason why print is thriving is due to loyal consumers that want to see their favourite magazines stay afloat. Hot Rods SA is a great example of how having such a big impact on consumers’ lives led to the fans donating and supporting to get the publication back on track.

More good news as to why print is surviving is the fact that the South African economy is bouncing back after a volatile year — it’s expected to grow by 3.3% in 2021!

Some well-known magazines that closed down have also been bought by other publishers and have either released new issues again — or will be soon.

Examples of these are the previously mentioned House & Leisure, which was acquired by Lookbook Studio, as well as Woman & Home, which was sold by Caxton to Highbury Media (Pty) Ltd. Other titles that have changed publishers include Top Gear SA, Skynews, as well as Bicycling & Runners World.

What this means for media

Innovation remains at the heart of the media industry — and it is no different for the print sector. In short, the media industry will need to remain on the lookout for changes and trends and be open to adapting.

Take, for instance, the new magazine Bruis. This title is aimed at Afrikaans-speaking senior citizens and hit the shelves for the first time in September 2020. New issues are available every second month in both a print and digital format.

Image sourced from Facebook
Image sourced from Facebook

Having the title available in both forms is good because it means that publishers can sell their product in a format that suits all types of customers. Publishers have thus learnt that having their publications available in various formats with low-frequency circulation allows overheads to be lowered while maintaining the quality of a premium product.

For the media industry as a whole, these new developments also highlight the need for titles in lifestyle, gardening, cooking and health categories — all of which have shown significant growth recently.

Are you optimistic about print’s future? Let us know in the comments below.

Moenie die nuutste media nuus misloop nie, teken nou in op ons nuusbrief!

Are you intrigued by what publishers do to survive? Well, that’s one of the many reasons Why publishers are relying more on readers than ad revenue in 2021.
*Image courtesy of Pixabay