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Writing and Publishing

Periodical Publishing in a Down Economy

The trend in magazine publishing is to migrate to non-printed forms of distribution (such as email, PDF files, and online reading) in order to reduce costs.  While I see this transformation as spanning many years or even decades for most publications, I also noted that the recession is accelerating this trend.

The reason is that almost all printed media (magazines and newspapers) are mostly or completely dependent on advertising for the revenue they need to produce their product.  When advertising revenue falls, it becomes harder to cover the costs of each issue.  When this occurs, they reduce the number of pages.  Fewer pages means lower costs and the potential to still make money or at least break even.  For several of the magazines that I read (and especially newspapers), the page count has been decreasing in recent months.

Another sign that a publication is having trouble is when they miss their publish date.  This happens when they haven’t sold enough ads to justify printing any size issue.  That just happened to one of the magazines that I regularly read; they were several weeks late.  I don’t expect them to be around much longer.

The final sign is that they merely eliminate an issue, giving them more time to sell ads for the following issue.

Typically, publications that market leaders are not affected too much during difficult economies, but secondary titles are.  The above example is one such case.

(Happily, I have not had to take any of these steps with the two magazines that I publish; one is staying even and the other has been growing — so readers need not worry!)

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Internet Sales Rise and Fall With Catalog Mailings

The DMA (Direct marketing Association) recently released their annual report on the catalog industry.

The report indicated that in 2007, 36% of sales [for the catalog industry] were conducted online. What is shocking is that this statistic is a decrease from 2006, when it stood at 40%. In fact 2007’s percentage was lower than both 2005 and 2004. To find a lower number, we need to go back to 2003, when it was a mere 29%.

What’s the deal? Is there a backlash against online buying?

No, seemingly it was a postage increase! This convincing theory blames the huge postage increase in May of 2007 as the culprit. Many catalogers drastically scaled back their mailings when their postage costs jumped 40%. Although some Internet buyers function strictly online, others are driven online when they receive a catalog or other direct mail piece. Ergo, less mailings equal less orders, and a decrease in sales.

I, too, feel the pain of the catalogers, as I experienced similar increases in postage for my magazines: Connections Magazine‘s postage increased 39% and AnswerStat, 41%. As a result, I began scrutinizing my subscriber list much more closely. Some magazines were pushed to e-publishing, dropping their print versions altogether.

So it should not be at all surprising that the USPS is seeing a drop in mail volume, which caused them to suffer a $1.1 billion loss for the third quarter. As a result, next year’s postage increase is expected to be the maximum legal amount. Experts predict that could mean magazines and catalogs will face a 5 to 6% bump.

Of course that means the affected mailers will scale back more, further lowering mail volume, and necessitating another maximum increase in 2010 — as mailing costs and post office efficacy spiral further out of control.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.