The New York Review of Magazines

Dead or Alive?

By Frederick Dreier

We all love magazines, but how should we gauge the health of the industry? Sure, the global recession has caused advertising dollars to dry up for all print publications. And even your mom is spending less time reading Mother Jones and more time reading on her MacBook. But for every expert writing an epitaph for print magazines, there is another promising clearer skies ahead.

They’re Dead
“Magazines are not dying. It’s the people behind them who are committing suicide. They devalued the reading experience so much, and the free business model is not sustainable.”
Samir Husni, director, University of Mississippi’s Magazine Innovation Center (Campaign, Nov. 6, 2009)

“The situation’s changed. We all kind of regret that our ancestors gave away the magazine for too little money.”
David Granger, editor in chief of Esquire (The New York Times, Dec. 16, 2009)

“Any publisher who thinks that magazine spending is going to rebound to their levels before 2008 and 2009 is naïve and deluding themselves.”
Lee Doyle, C.E.O. of North America of Mediaedge (Advertising Age, July 2009)

“In a climate like this, I think people are really weighing what’s more important to them: being eligible for the National Magazine Awards or making their budgets.”
Susan Lyne, C.E.O. of Gilt Groupe (The New York Times, April 7, 2009)

“The world has changed; the methods and speed with which we can receive information, the pace of life and consumers’ changing lifestyles will change the magazine model.”
Tony Jones, C.E.O. of Pensord Press printing company (PrintWeek, May 22, 2009)


Not So Fast!
“I want 1.6 million women to go to the newsstand every month to buy Cosmo, and they do. We don’t want that genie out of the bottle. I don’t have any interest in challenging that economic model.”
Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines (The New York Times, May 31, 2009)

“I can’t see anyone sitting down with a cup of coffee and picking up their electronic version of a magazine — it’s not so tactile and simply does not have the same attraction!”
Richard Gray, managing director of Prinovis Liverpool printing company (PrintWeek, May 22, 2009)

“As long as people are willing to pay more than £5 for a watch, then we’ll have watch advertising, and we’ll have magazines.”
Russell Davies, columnist for Wired (Campaign, April 3, 2009)

“We get many world exclusives that are beating out the Internet. It’s quite an accomplishment for a print media form to continuously do that.”
Rob Borm, associate publisher of Game Informer (, June 9, 2008).

“Print can’t deliver music, video, but what print can deliver is beautiful, in-depth visuals and journalism that explores subjects in a particular kind of way.”
Gary Belsky, editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine (The New York Times, Oct. 11, 2009)

“We’re looking at double-digit growth through November, December and January. You only have to look at a bellwether title like The Australian Women’s Weekly. This month it’s 400 pages and full of ads. The top-10 industry selling titles are very strong at the moment.”
Peter Zavecz, commercial director of Pacific Magazines (The Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 4, 2009)

“The market is definitely stronger. November has exceeded our expectations on revenue.
All indications are very positive.”
Lisa Hudson, C.E.O. of Fairfax Magazines (The Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 4, 2009)

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