It was announced this week that after 55 years of publishing and being the leading magazine in product design, I.D. is shutting its doors. Yet another magazine has fallen down.
Some would think that this has to do with the economic downturn that we are currently in. Lack of advertising sales and lack of subscriptions, yadda yadda. Others would argue that it’s a foreshadowing of things to come as the digital world grabs onto the publishing world. Basically, that print is dying. I would like to offer up a different theory. Perhaps the veritable reason is that I.D. (or any other publishing brand for that matter) could not adapt to the trends in the publishing marketplace relative to the presence of their brand electronically.
We see this all the time now. Publishers get nervous with the digital world but that nervousness is overshadowed by falling subscriptions and profit. They see online marketing it as their buoy or life raft in the sea of changing demographics only after the aged practice of direct mail campaigns fail. Publishers are hesitant in using blogs, e-marketing, social media, and the like to reinforce their brand until it’s too late.
Quick and effective adaptation of any brand is essential in this current climate. I see that publishers tend to one of two things to grab their demographic and foster a new audience. One method is simply re-publishing what they already have an interactive book or a PDF on their site. The second method is the inclusion of select articles and short stories from their current pub, and/or previous issues as their main content on their site. Yes, one can argue that these methods are essential when bridging the gap from the printed piece to the brand online. However, it must be realized that these practices are passive in nature. Interactivity between the brand and the audience is essential, if not demanded by users today. This could be the inherent failure of magazines presently and into the future.
Publishers have started partnerships with Apple’s iTunes to develop an iTunes for magazines and other publications. This is a start, and probably will take off for a bit, however with the lack of user/audience participation directly with the brand, with the magazine and with the authors, I see this as nothing but a band aid approach to the problem. Periodical publishers believe that the printed piece is primary and the online content is secondary. It is time to shift focus from that paradigm. Perhaps a new dynamic in publishing theory should be: online content utilizing interactivity and personal user dialog is first and foremost; while the printed piece is a follow up, a companion to the already established brand online. This type of thinking can be seen as detrimental to the established brand and the overall business model. However, it can also be seen as an opportunity to be the first publisher to change the operating model to fit the change in market, to be the trendsetter.