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Report on

Online v. Print Magazines





Submitted to
Laura Marostica
for
English 316
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah
March 31, 2014



by
Hayley Bird




















Hayley Bird
hayleyeastman@cox.net ! (623) 249-8282 ! 366 E. 600 N. #31 Provo, UT 84606

March 31, 2014

Mediaweek
PO Box 992
Double Bay NSW 1360
Australia

Dear Editors of Mediaweek:

I am submitting this paper for publishing consideration to Mediaweek. This paper is a
compilation and analysis of information and trends regarding the success of online and print
magazines.

Many people are unsure of what the future of magazines holds. It is unknown what form they
will be produced ten years from now. However, after analyzing the current trends of online and
print magazines, it can be predicted in what ways they will still be the same and in what ways
they will evolve.

This report discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both of these forms of magazines. It
also talks about the most effective ways of producing each type, and where each should go in the
future to remain successful.

This issue of uncertainty in the future is one that magazine companies must consider. Whether
they want to continue relaying information in print or online, they must know the best tactics to
remain in business. Hopefully this report will assist in opening their eyes to changes that need to
be made and future occurrences that they need to prepare for. I hope you find this paper to be
informative. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,


Hayley Bird













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Table of Contents
List of Figures ................................................................................................................................ iv
Abstract ............................................................................................................................................v
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................1
Research ...........................................................................................................................................2
Print Magazines ............................................................................................................................2
Online Magazines .........................................................................................................................6
Online and Print ...........................................................................................................................8
Discussion ........................................................................................................................................9
Advice for Print ............................................................................................................................9
Advice for Online .......................................................................................................................10
Conclusion .....................................................................................................................................11
The Future of Magazines ............................................................................................................11
References ......................................................................................................................................13





























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List of Figures
Fig. 1. Number of Print Magazine Readers Decreases3
Fig. 2. One-fifth of the US adult population reads magazine content through a digital channel4
Fig. 3. News Magazines Are Fighting for Survival.5
Fig. 4. Some Magazine Readers Turn to Digital...10









































v
Abstract
The purpose of this report is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of print and
online magazines. Because there are pros and cons for both mediums, magazine companies must
be aware of what methods will lead them to be the most successful. Many people believe print to
be dying; however, this is highly exaggerated, and it is likely that the demand for print
magazines will continue to exist for quite some time. This report will not only discuss the
advantages and disadvantages associated with each method of production, but will also give
advice to companies who are contemplating which method will be the best for them. If magazine
companies can figure out the best tactics for their specific publication and effectively anticipate
the future of their consumers demand, they will have a much higher chance of being successful.


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Introduction
It is no secret that journalism has been constantly changing and will continue to do so.
Many people believe that journalism will no longer exist in the future because newspapers and
magazines are going out of business, but this is not true. Journalism will always exist, but in
forms that are different from what people are used to, for although we cant predict with
certainty how the forms of journals, magazines, and books might change with the available
technology, we can be certain that the ideas transmitted through the written word will be as
valuable as ever (Aase 2011). New forms have already emerged, such as online newspapers and
magazines that can be accessed from computers, phones, tablets, and many more devices.
Because of their quick and simple accessibility, these forms of digital media have been quite
successful. However, they must be constantly changing and up to date.
Magazines in particular must be on top of their game to continue to be successful. From
the first magazine in 1663 to the magazines that exist today, much has changed. Many magazines
have gone out of business, such as Blender, Country Home, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Modern
Bride. In addition, many magazines have switched to online only, such as PC Magazine,
National Geographics Adventure, and Northwestern Universitys TriQuarterly (Black 2010).
However, many printed magazines still exist and continue to be successful, such as People,
Seventeen, and Us Weekly. Many readers find it exciting to have a physical copy that they can
hold and look through at the store, at home, or with a friend.
Each form of magazine has its set of pros and cons for both the consumers and the
producers. For example, printed magazines cost more to produce, which is why magazine
companies must sell them for a higher price. Because of these costs and benefits, magazine
companies must know the most successful and efficient ways for producing their magazine.


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Printed magazines could continue to exist if companies figure out the best methods for producing
and selling them. Online magazine companies must also figure out the best methods for
production and making money.
Because media is constantly changing, both online and print magazine companies must
be prepared for the future. They must always be one step ahead in order to be ready to fulfill
their consumers desires as soon as new demands and expectations arise. Magazine companies
must learn the best methods for the future of their publication and what form it is likely to take.
This paper will analyze both print and online magazines and discuss some of the pros and
cons of each. This paper will then discuss some of the best methods for magazine companies to
follow for each of these mediums, as well as give advice on how companies can prepare for the
future of journalism.

Research
Print Magazines
Intro
Print magazines are assumed by many to fail within the near future. However, research
shows that there is still a demand for print. According to Aase, The death of print has been
greatly exaggerated (Aase 2011). While this death may be exaggerated, the truth is that
although there is still a demand for print, that demand is decreasing. For example, magazine
newsstand sales declined 7.7 percent in the first half of 2010, with news, auto, and entertainment
publications taking the hardest hits. Although newsstand sales only represent 13 percent of all
magazine sales, they are still seen as an important yardstick of the industrys vitality (Moses
2010). This decline can be partially attributable to increases in prices. From 2008 to 2010, the


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average magazine price rose
from $4.11 to $4.60 (Moses
2010). Companies have also
been eliminating copies of
their publications from low-
volume locations.
Pros
Print magazines have
many benefits that cannot be
obtained from most digital
magazines. Because of these
benefits, print magazines have continued to exist and be successful. Although the demand for
online publications is on the rise, many still desire a tangible form of magazines.
Print magazines allow readers to interact with them in a way that digital magazines
cannot. This is because we experience media through our senses, and perceptions of form and
aesthetics could be an integral and important part of the general media experience (Ytre-Arne
2011). Readers can hold print magazines, flip through them, and carry them. They can take them
anywhere, fold pages, underline, highlight, and make notations. They can smell and feel the
paper. They do not have to click a mouse or use a keyboard, and the page will not disappear all
of a sudden. Because they are actively being involved with the text, users can better memorize
and understand it (Aase 2011).
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Fig. 1. The number of print magazine readers has decreased
very slowly since 2006. (Source: Pew Research Center)


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This concept that readers prefer to interact physically with what they are reading is
supported by a 2011 study conducted on Norwegian women. These women were asked about
their experiences visiting the website and reading the print version of a magazine that contained
the same content. The majority of these women responded that while they liked the website, they
still preferred the print version. One of these women expressed some interest in the website,
[but] she still described it in a rather detached manner . . .. She looks at the website but reads
the magazine, a distinction which suggests rather different approaches to the media in question
(Ytre-Arne 2011). One reason for this could be the high quality photos in print that device
screens just cannot compete with. After this study, it was evident that fashion and interior
design were the most popular magazine topics, and visual elements are the backbone of these
kinds of magazine journalism (Ytre-Arne 2011). However, many other women mentioned that
they cared more about the headlines on the cover of the magazine informing them about the
content inside than what the cover actually looked like. These reactions show that both graphics
Fig. 2. There is still a large demand for print magazines, with almost half of the US adult
population preferring only the print version.


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and text are extremely important qualities of print magazines that catch consumers eyes and
draw them into purchasing a printed version rather than looking online.
Cons
While print magazines offer many benefits to their readers, there are many cons that are
associated with these benefits. For example, consumers must go the store to purchase a print
magazine rather than just accessing it immediately from wherever they are. Print magazines are
also prone to physical harm, such as getting wet, being torn, or deteriorating with time, whereas
the online version cannot be physically harmed and will always be the same.
Print magazines can also be costly for magazine companies. For example, subscriptions
require postage, which is continually on the rise. This could be one reason why the number of
Fig. 3. Selling ads is one of the most effective ways for magazine companies to make
money. Many magazine companies struggle to sell enough ads to continue their print
version, such as Newsweek, who stopped printing in 2012.


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institutional print subscriptions drops every year, going from 64 percent of library subscriptions
in 2002 to 30 percent in 2006 (Aase 2011). In addition, print takes up space that digital copies
do not. They must be actually printed and then distributed, while digital versions only require
one copy, and can easily be distributed online without the time, work, energy, and money of a
physical distribution.
Online Magazines
Intro
The number of online magazines is increasing as technology improves and readers begin
to demand easier and quicker ways of accessing their information. As various devices continue
to improve, reading print will not be as likely within the next ten years. Currently, the vast
majority of publication subscriptions are e-only. Because of this, many magazine companies will
begin to shift their focus to an electronic version of their publication. Bob Sacks, a publishing
industry analyst, estimates that 60 percent or more have moved to a digital magazine format
(Aase 2011). This transition can prove very beneficial, as user habits are tipping toward digital
and away from print (Aase 2011). This force is irreversible. Although Americans print
consumption has decreased since 1960, the reading of news (rather than viewing) has increased,
meaning that online consumption has increased as well.
Pros
Publishing online can benefit both magazine producers and consumers. The pros for
consumers may seems obvious; information can be accessed virtually anywhere with just the
touch of a button on most of the devices that exist today. However, there is so much more than
that. Digital magazines have unlimited possibilities for interaction. They can also be archived, so
readers can search for any edition they want.


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There are also many pros for magazine companies that have prompted them to make the
switch. One is that it generally costs more money than printing does. This is especially beneficial
for small commercial publishers because going exclusively digital saves money (Aase 2011).
This cost is could be up to 50 percent less than the cost of print (Silva 2011). In addition,
publishing online opens up the doors to many more business models.
Another benefit to publishing online is that writers can create a discussion with anyone
throughout the world. They can bring together a community online. Sarah Hepola, a regular in
The Morning News, said, When I publish a story in a paper, I generally get a world of silence in
return. If mainstream media is missing something, its probably this human connection, this
strange almost-intimacy that the Internet allows (Reeves 2003). This unique human connection
that can exist online likely draws more readers to the digital version. It may also increase
satisfaction for the writers, as well as draw feedback from readers than can be used to improve
the publication.
Cons
Although going online can be quite beneficial, it also has some disadvantages that must
be considered. For example, online publications cannot be manipulated by consumers as easily
as print. Readers cannot annotate articles in their web browser. Although there are many new
apps that will allow readers to do so (such as SpreadCrumbs), readers must own a compatible
device, have the knowledge of these apps, and have the desire to download and use them.
Downloading these apps will also take up space on the device, which could detract readers from
doing so. Readers must also charge their devices and have the bandwidth to access online
publications (Aase 2011). As a result, readers may get frustrated or be unable to access the online
version due to these circumstances, thus decreasing online viewership.


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Another disadvantage for many consumers of online magazines is the lack of physical
interaction, as discussed in an earlier section. One woman from the 2011 study on Norwegian
women describes her physical interaction with the computer as uncomfortable and impractical,
but computers were also considered foreign to relaxation in a more symbolic sense (Ytre-Arne
2011). This quote show that many people find it hard to enjoy themselves when they are on their
computer, especially since computers are often associated with work. In addition, some people,
such as the woman described in this quote, may be uncomfortable holding or carrying a laptop or
other device to view an online magazine in different locations. Fortunately, because many new
devices are being invented, viewing a magazine on a tablet or phone may be more comfortable
for the reader but they are smaller and lighter. However, this then presents a whole new set of
problems; the text may be smaller and therefore harder to read, the website may be more difficult
to navigate, and the format may change to fit the size of the screen. Because of this, magazines
that go online may want to consider creating their own app in order to correctly and efficiently
display their publication on each device.
There are also some disadvantages to the magazine companies. For example, it takes
resources to create an online publication and make it great. Companies need a consistent way of
making revenue, which may include requiring online subscriptions or adding advertisements.
Magazine companies will also need to hire employees skilled in web design and management.
All of these drawbacks could take up time, money, and resources that the company does not
have.
Online and Print
While many magazine companies choose to produce their product in one form or the
other, many choose to do both. This can be challenging; a big hurdle to the digital transition for


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publishers is the cost of going digital while maintaining a print product (Aase 2011). Going
online does not decrease expenses, but instead adds to them as the company tries to successfully
maintain two versions of their publication.
However, having on online version in addition to the printed publication can be
beneficial; companion websites may have positive effects on circulation through such channels
as awareness, additional service, and community building (Kaiser 2012). If there is something a
consumer cannot find in the printed version that they want to learn about, they can visit the
online version. Both versions can help publicize each other, increasing both print sales and visits
to the website.

Discussion
Advice for Print
Many companies may feel like they should just give up their print publications now
because they think that it is eventually going to happen anyway. They would rather make the
transition, or just focus on their online versions. However, magazine companies should not give
up printing until they must. Karen Hunter, senior vice president of the Journal of the American
Dietetic Association, said, As long as theres still a demand for print, its a disservice to
everyone to stop (Aase 2011.) Because the demand for print is likely to exist for quite some
time, there is no reason for companies to stop printing just because they think people no longer
desire to read print magazines.


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However, making that transition may be the absolute right thing for many companies,
such as PC Magazine, National Geographics Adventure, and Northwestern Universitys
TriQuarterly (Black 2010). Companies may not be able to keep up with the expenses of printing
physical copies. In these situations, focusing on a digital version could be extremely beneficial. It
could also allow companies to start thinking about the next form of media that will arise and how
to prepare for it.
Advice for Online
Many companies think they should publish their magazines online just for the sake of
doing it. However, doing so is usually not the best choice. Tony Trioli said, We dont want to
Fig. 4. Although many readers have turned to digital magazines, many magazine
companies have still seen success with their print versions. For this reason,
companies should take comfort in knowing that many consumers still desire to read a
printed version.


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make a Kindle version of the Journal available just for the sake of doing it. It has to be
something the membership really wants. We want to make sure weve looked at all of the pitfalls
and benefits first (Aase 2011). Magazine companies need to weigh the advantages and
disadvantages pertaining to their specific company and audience before making such an
important decision.
Another thing for magazine companies to remember is that although online publications
are generally free of charge and offer superior possibilities for interactivity and choice . . . these
apparent advantages are of little significance if the website cannot offer the experiences readers
seek when they purchase and read . . . magazines (Ytre-Arne 2011). This is crucial to keep in
mind when creating online versions of publications. Whether the magazine is viewed in a web
browser or through an app, readers want to be able to have similar experiences as when they are
reading a print version. Apps can often do a better job of this, as they can be created with much
more flexibility and contain many more tools and options than a web browser.
A 2008 study was conducted to find out what aspects of online magazines were most
important in increasing viewership. Some of the results included website attractiveness,
interesting and relevant content, interesting and relevant services, website interaction, and
catering to the audience (Srisuwan 2008). Each company should analyze these categories and
look for ways that each can be improved within their own website.

Conclusion
The Future of Magazines
A 2012 study looked at the relationship between the number of online viewership versus
the number of print sales. It was found that for every 1 percent increase in website visits, there


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was only as .15 percent decrease in total print circulation, with the majority of the decrease being
a result of fewer kiosk sales (Kaiser 2012). The relationship between these two numbers are quite
insignificant, showing that although many readers may be accessing material online, the number
of those purchasing it in print is decreasing at a much slower rate. In addition, the majority of
those consumers who have made the transition from viewing print to online are typically those
who buy magazines impulsively at kiosks, rather than the dedicated followers of certain
magazines. These statistics can give hope to magazine companies, for the decrease in print sales
will likely not be as rapid as suspected. This is supported by the prediction of MediaIDEAS that
in 2022 digital magazines will make up only 30 percent of the magazine market but in 2032, 75
percent of all periodicals market (Silva 2011).
While technology is continuously advancing and improving ways to portray publications
digitally, it is likely that the demand for print magazines will last for quite some time. During
this time, experts say that readers can expect the following in digital publications: more
personalization, easier collaboration, more meaningful connections, and innovation. As
technology improves, it is possible that the digital version will become more attractive than
paper. However, even if we ultimately abandon print, theres the security that print will never
abandon us (Aase 2011).








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