Sunday, April 15, 2007

New Study Projects Growth in Magazine Titles, But Lower Total Magazine Volume

"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless."
Milton Friedman (American Economist, b.1912)

New Study Projects Growth in Magazine Titles, But Lower Total Magazine Volume

BY Matt Steinmetz sid=52560&var=story

A recent study conducted by Print Industries Market Information and Research Organization (PRIMIR) offers a look at a number of trends and market influences likely to shape the North American magazine printing industry over the next five years. A highlight of the study, titled "Magazine Printing and Publishing 2006-2011," is its offering of four potential scenarios that may play out through 2011: the "disaster" scenario, the "pessimistic" scenario, the "optimistic" scenario and the "most probable" scenario. It also chronicles the rise of the digital age of publishing and brings into focus the needs of today's and tomorrow's magazine publishers and printers.

The research, which was conducted by Waxhaw, N.C.- based PrintCom Consulting Group over the course of one year and released in March, draws on interviews with almost 100 industry experts, and the analysis and study of approximately 640 magazines.

The verdict? Printed magazines probably aren't going anywhere in the next five years. In fact, the study cites the birth of 1,370 new magazine titles in the U.S. and Canada in 2006. This number swells the total number of magazines in print to an all-time high of 26,140. The study also forecasts a net growth of 820 new titles this year, totaling 26,960 magazines by the end of 2007.

Not all of the research's prognostications were rosy, however. The total number of ad pages contained in North American magazines will decline by about 9 percent from 2006 to 2011, it predicts, despite an overall increase in number of titles during this same period. The study attributes this decline in advertising to a shift of some content from print to the Web.

"The most probable scenario [according to the study] for 2011 calls for a net growth in titles of 4.6 percent from 2007 to a net total of 28,205," says Jackie Bland, managing director of Reston, Va.-based PRIMIR. "Total magazine volume will erode, however, due to declines in frequency, page count and average run lengths. A disproportional growth in annual publications and special editions will contribute to the frequency decline, while advertising softening will result in a minor reduction in pages."

Bland also cited recent postal legislation as a likely determinant in this outcome. "An expected 2007 jump in postal costs may also lead publishers to reduce page sizes and paper weights," she says. "Thus, page volume in 2011 is forecast to drop 9 percent as compared to 2007."

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