Do they still make magazine racks anymore? Or are they a relic of the past? A quick look on Amazon, the modern mecca of retail goods, shows that they are still available to purchase. (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=magazine+rack&crid=3487YF3UASWBV&sprefix=Magaz%2Caps%2C150&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_5). But really, do you currently have any magazines in your home?
I used to subscribe to People, Vogue, Cooking Light and Cosmopolitan. After I got married, Men’s Health and Business Week crowded into our mailbox and the magazine rack. Our family grew and Highlights and National Geographic for kids worked their way into the mailbox and both magazine racks, because by then we had two of them.
Yet, over the past decade our print magazine subscriptions have gone the way of our newspaper subscriptions … they vanished. Everything my household members subscribe to is digital. As a disabled person, it is much easier for me to manage a Kindle app on my tablet than to maneuver a physical magazine. My teenagers only read what is on their smart phones or laptops. I thought we were typical in that way, but I was apparently wrong.
An article in the Freeport Press noted, “While publishers talk about embracing the digital future of their publications, ordinary people like you and me still prefer to read a good glossy.” (http://freeportpress.com/print-vs-digital-how-we-really-consume-our-magazines/). The data indicates print has a solid readership, but digital is bigger.
Here we see print magazine subscription data:
And here we see the corresponding digital magazine subscription data:
Who chooses print? Who chooses digital?
Further investigation indicates that the preference for digital over print very much depends upon the subject matter of the magazine. A 2017 BBC report states, regarding print magazines, “.. the latest ABC figures, released this week, show that sales of certain titles are actually going up. News and current affairs [print] magazines are becoming more popular – but celebrity, gossip and fashion publications are still struggling.” (https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-40897967).
So even though print has a defined, stable market, the number of digital magazines have steadily increased, as illustrated by the two following charts about print and digital magazine readership:
There is room for every format on the magazine team
Why do we perceive digital vs print as a fight, instead of considering a cohabitation? Not everybody wants to be attached to technology all the time. Print media allows freedom from the electronic umbilical cord. Digital magazines are not only accessible from your laptop or PC, but even from your smartphone or tablet device. With digital, you don’t have to wait for a subscription to come in the mail, and you don’t even have to go to a drugstore or newsstand to fetch it. It’s all just a click away. The marketplace does not have to exclusively cater to one or the other. When you’re avoiding stores and germs, however, digital wins.