A Free Business Analysis to Benefit the Publishing Industry

  1. Subscriptions contribute only a small amount of money to your bottom line. Advertisements generate far more revenue, but the price you can charge for advertisements is based on the number of subscribers. Therefore, subscribers are more important than subscriptions.
  2. Baby boomers still subscribe to newspapers and magazines; they also purchase books. While some content—including books—are purchased in digital format, many of us prefer cellulose based analog formats (paper) for a variety of reason. If a book is particularly important or enjoyable to me, owning the book is as important as having read it.
  3. Books, in particular, can be passed along to others. Electronic media cannot. You probably see this as an advantage, but passing a book along is an endorsement that may lead to other purchases. Over the years, for example, I have purchased, and passed along to others, dozens of copies of Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization—in my opinion the best management book ever written; many of these people have then also purchased multiple copies of the book to pass along. Telling someone about the e-book you read is less effective—with a few exceptions, such as Andy Weir’s The Martian. Science fiction can get away with that while most other topics cannot.
  4. Reference materials are still best in analog format. Highlighting real paper and adding post-it-notes® works better in technical manuals than the electronic equivalents or even the find or search function.
  5. For the news, print is still pretty much held to a higher standard of accuracy and lack-of-bias. There are still a few—far too few—real journalists in print while the electronic media focuses on sensationalism, commentary, opinion, and conjecture.

So how do you treat your loyal customers?

  • Newspapers get smaller, shorter, and with type that is nearly impossible to read. The public announcements in the Virginian-Pilot, for example, cannot be read even with reading glasses—they require a magnifying glass.
  • On the other hand, the advertisements USE LARGE TYPE AND ARE EASY TO READ.
  • The type in some magazines is very trendy, which often means the type is only subtly different than the background.
  • Stories are continued on page 96 or 104, but too few pages have numbers, or the page numbers are in a trendy font and cannot be deciphered.

So where does that leave us? If the printed media doesn’t clean up its act, the baby boomers—the last vestige of critical thinkers—will have no choice but to get their information from AM talk radio, unattributed sources on 24-hour news feeds in which everything is BREAKING NEWS! Then we too shall base our decisions on sound bites without proof or explanation. We’ll believe what we’re told to believe and act (and vote) accordingly.

You think things are bad now? Just wait.

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