A New Paradigm For Print. Does it Have To Be Dead?

posted in: Eban's Blog, pirate, The New Media Cynic | 1

Print is Dead by topgold

I love magazines. I love the look and the feel. I know that in most cases I can find the same information online, but the experience is not the same.

With that said, let me also say that I stopped reading magazines for a while. The price kept getting higher for less and less information. Instead of more content the ads were taking over.

This is a result of a cycle. Less people read the mags and revenue falls–so the mags increase the advertising which brings in less revenue from individual ads as the readership lowers–so the magazine sells more ads with less content until the end finally comes and the magazine goes under. How is that for a run-on sentence?

At times, especially now with the economy so uncertain, it seems like this is an unbreakable cycle. Blogs and news sites run stories about the troubles of the print media. People like Rupert Murdoch talk about the shift and suggest charging for online content that was once free. It is the start of a whole new cycle.

Well, I have an idea, and it involves everyone’s favorite price point, free. I put forth that the new paradigm of print is free. For free, people will accept more ads and less content. For free, more people will subscribe to magazines previously abandoned. More eyeballs means that the mags can charge a higher premium for the advertising content. A whole new cycle breaks the old.

Now, before you bolt from this blog calling me an idiot, let me give you some background on how I came up with this idea. It comes from the most frugal person I know, my better half, Effie.

Effie is the type of shopper that spends hours each week searching out deals, coupons, and offers. She sets out strategies, which she calls scenarios, and then hits the stores. It is not uncommon for her to come back from CVS pharmacy with up to $50 worth of stuff paying between pocket change to a couple of dollars out of pocket. She can hit the grocery stores and come home with $100 worth of stuff for around $25. She regularly makes Target and Wal Mart her bitch.

She does great in store, that is for sure, but on top of that, she has learned to find deals online as well. She is always getting free stuff in the mail, everything from free samples to actual product to–get ready for it, magazine subscriptions.

We get Forbes, Muscle and Fitness, O, Rachel Ray, Town and Country, Sports Illustrated, Good housekeeping, and more, all free. What I have noticed is that I don’t mind reading these mags, higher ads and lower content, when I don’t pay for them.

Now, sometimes these subscriptions are just introductory and a short run, sometimes it is a full year, but it is nice reading mags again.

This is where my thought comes from. My eyes are valuable, not just to me, but to those advertisers. If a mag goes under, so does all of that advertising real estate. I won’t even begin to say that I have the logistics of how this shift can work, but I still think it can be worked out to a winning situation.

The thing is, I don’t think anyone wants to work it out. The people on top of these industries have always looked for the money. The idea of a shift of this magnitude is scary for them. I mean, the subs we get do eventually end and the purchase forms eventually come. But think differently for a minute. How many people like to separate their reading from the internet and the computer screen? How many still prefer a book or magazine to a screen? How many people love FREE?

By offering the subscriptions for free, the sub rate would probably jump by double or triple or more. This is where the ad revenue picks up. No longer do the mags have to look to subscription purchases to make it, those extra eyes are like gold!

Some mags already do this. Most cities have local mags that are totally ad supported. Imagine that on a national scale. There are many more eyeballs on the national scale, every one an advertiser target. Of course, some changes would have to be made to the format and such, and more space would go to the ads. Maybe the mags would have to go bi-monthly, whatever. But still, FREE speaks to people.

Well, that is just my take. It works locally, it works for broadcast TV. The numbers are there for free. The numbers have eyes that can lead to greater advertising revenue. The print media world does not have to go under.

It would be a shift, but some shifts are a good thing. Still, the probability of this shift is unlikely, unfortunately,

What do you think?

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One Response

  1. I like the idea, but I think it might be too late for print. Online content is just exploding. With Kindles and whatnot now, it’s another big hit to print. I miss the feel of actual paper, too.

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