The future of print in 2016
We’re coming to the close of 2015 and at this current moment publishers are sending their January issues to print. This year we’ve seen the loss of many printed magazines, which now includes the suspension of FHM and Zoo magazines – ending the lad mag culture that has been popular for so many years. NME magazine has shifted from a glossy publication to a free weekly available in your local music stores such as HMV. But what will 2016 have in store for the world of printed editorial design?
Resurgence of print
“Magazines that have mastered digital are moving to print to showcase their work to a broader audience” says Emily Steck in a recent article. This isn’t to say that digital is dying, it’s more to say that your audience is limited when it’s online. Yes we can track demographics and statistics but finding your niche market is harder. With publications slowly disappearing off the newsstands there is an untapped market for many to branch into. Statistics in this case don’t lie. “25% of respondents had read five or more print magazines in the past month. Only 1.8% of those same people said they read that many digital magazines” argues Free Port Press. Not to mention that people are far more likely to enjoy and engage with a physical magazine than they are a digital replica. After all we like the familiar and there’s nostalgia for things in their printed forms. It would be no surprise to see print publications grow in numbers in 2016 and have digital publishers expand to conquer untapped niche markets on the newsstands.
Quality over quantity
You can produce a digital magazine on a weekly basis to keep your readers entertained but each issue will gradually get smaller in pagination and the quality will inevitably suffer. The Guardian describes it best, “they’re beautiful objects, whose arrangement of content, photography and paper stocks convey a different view of the world.” That’s something you don’t get from a digital magazine. The quality isn’t the same and the feel is definitely not the same. Rather than have a magazine on your coffee table every week, or even every month, I wouldn’t be surprised to see magazines shift into larger scale publications that are quarterly or biannually. This doesn’t eliminate blog magazines as this could fill the quantity bracket, but for the resurgence of print the quality of a publication is far more important if magazines are to make a comeback.
Indie magazines will continue to grow
New start-up magazines are a result of young designers and journalists that wish to break out into editorial, production and publication roles. Costs are low as they are made as limited runs only and the creators are fuelled with passion to grow their magazines. “Unlike traditional magazines, they are rarely predictable” and that is what keeps the indie culture alive. Some may argue that their inconsistencies go against traditional magazine format and is damaging print, and to some extent this is true, but it’s these people that are keeping print alive and relevant. While your larger commercial magazines can afford to have the quality, indie magazines are more about substance over style. They have something to say and it’s keeping people interested in their voice that creates a print counterculture. More and more of these types of magazines are popping up in your independent coffee shops and book stores and I expect that many more will flourish in the new year.