The State of Magazine Publishing Today—A definitive answer…more or less

What is the state of magazine publishing today? It appears to be a multiple choice question. And the answer is, “All of the above.”

An article in last week’s The Economist print edition stated that magazine publishing has been infused with a new sense of optimism. Magazines are still attractive to advertisers and there is strong reader loyalty, the author states. Moreover, magazines have learned to harness digital technology in innovative ways. And, for the second year in a row, more magazines were launched in 2011 than closed.

Meanwhile, the opposite point of view is argued in a blog post on the Economist Group’s Lean Back 2.0 blog, in which the author Rishad Tabaccowala states that “tablets will hasten the demise of magazines and not save them.” Tablets put magazine content on the same level as games and social media, he says. And the iPad disrupts magazine publishers’ tight control over distribution and damages their ability to bundle content together. In short, Tabaccowala describes the state of the magazine industry as a “headache.”

Then, there’s the Huffington Post, a well-known blog which this week launched an iPad magazine called “Huffington.” The weekly publication will offer longer pieces than on its blog, with photo essays and and data visualizations. Subscribers will pay by the issue, month, or year.

So, what is the state of magazine publishing? Disastrous or encouraging? Growing or heading for oblivion? Is the iPad the new frontier in magazine publishing or will it deal the final blow to the industry?  And the answer is….Yes.