I'm sure we're all aware that the print industry has being burning in front of our eyes for the past ten years or so, but recently the phoenix is rising from the ashes.
You can witness this occurring in multiple industries, most notably with coffee shops, artisanal crafts and products that are made in the USA. It all starts with an uprising of a dominant, cannibalising force that wipes out competition faster than you can spell the word cannibalising. With print, it was the internet, with coffee, it was Starbucks, with goods made in America, it was imported goods made in China. Then, usually after a period of apparent calm, the people look for something different, and a resurgence for the once obsolete medium has its rebirth.
In the print world, you see this in magazines like The Great Discontent, Cereal, Kinfolk and others. These high quality, niche market magazines have seen great results in recent years because there's a great desire for printed goods that exceed everyday expectations. While traditional magazines are hemorrhaging money, even as they clamor to become "more digital", small start-up magazines like The Great Discontent are finding great luck with their loyal fanbase.
There is undoubtably something romantic about print. When I pick up one of these magazines, I feel like I’m holding a piece of art. The smell of the paper, the thick stock, the beautiful design and typography. Even things like the packaging and the buying experience all contributes to this experience that delights when I pick one up and browse through.
While rekindling the art of print, these magazines have made sure to stay fully engaged in the online world like any company running in 2014 should be. In fact, numerous magazines had their start in online publishing, which helped fuel and further their printing business. Kinfolk has a large online following and has created some incredible videos. The Great Discontent have amassed an enormous online catalog of interviews with creators from all walks. All the magazines are active and fully engaged in everything web and social media related that you’d be surprised they would ever even consider selling non-digital goods. It all adds to the experience.
The Sunday newspaper, the Tabloid, the Washington Post, People, Time, US Weekly... all of these publications are about the race to the bottom. They all are trying to deliver the same content, at a cheaper price, faster and with better headlines then the one sitting next to them. They fill hundreds of pages with useless content, ads and, in some cases, fear-mongering content, all in efforts to sell more issues and meet the bottom line. Conversely, these smaller, more refined, higher quality niche magazines are about the race to the top. They charge a premium for highly vetted, carefully produced content and a well thought out experience. In this market, you don’t need 10 million readers from ads to make it work, you may just need 10,000, or even 1,000 loyal fans to make an honest living. There’s always more room at the top, there’s never room at the bottom.
Here are links to magazines that I've picked up in the past few weeks. I would love to hear about more if you know of any.