The following data is new and fresh. There has been no time for proper analysis or deep study. It looks like newsstand sales are down -13.4%, and sell through looks to be down to 24.4%. As noted below this is a limited version of the data. It is worth noting that Hudson Atlas News is not included in these totals nor is Barnes & Nobel. There has been some discussion of the Mary Meeker 2017 data in this newsletter over the past few days, and this new Magnet data does seem to parallel that other data set. But that too is just a set of numbers. Some have said those numbers are biased. I put forth the proposition that all analysis no matter how innocently prepared is to a greater or lesser degree biased. You take what you understand and apply your own real time experience to it for meaningful comprehension.
I have many times and continue to point out that this data and other charts are an aggregate of everyone and, although they might be interesting, averages contain both winners and losers. There has always been death and destruction in the magazine business. But there have also always been winners, and I believe we need to continue to focus on the winners.
I take the position that at our peak of production in the early years of the 21st century, when our competitors were only TV and radio, we had reached a print position of irrational exuberance. We topped out because readers could/would support it. Now as we head into a more digital focused age of media distribution, it is harder, but surely not impossible, to justify an existence for print titles. The bar for success in print is now higher. The readership is now more refined and narrow. Niche enthusiast titles rule the roost and general mass market titles are fewer and fewer. Still, there is plenty of room for print titles and the paper that supports the process.
The days of irrational exuberance in print are over, but we are reaching a point of cogent maturity for publishers, printers and paper manufacturers. Print will be around for quite some time, not as a commodity, but as a luxury item worth paying for. The only catch is that what is printed has to be worthy of the commercial exercise to produce it.