Speed of delivery is becoming one of the paramount barometers to business success. How is your speed of delivery? How long does it take you to fulfill a subscription? Is it 6 or 8 weeks? Just writing that business cycle-time frame in the 21st century is embarrassing.
Every year, as an industry, not only do newsstand sales drop but so do subscriptions. In this age of Amazon and Walmart and the legendarily accepted two-day delivery cycle nothing says antique when making a sale like, "I'll get it to you in month or maybe two." There was once a time that this was an acceptable business practice. It was a time of the Sears Catalog and the horse and buggy. It was a simple time when no knew how to, nor needed to, accelerate a business proposition.
Why do we print publishers continue such an aged process? In some cases, it is a tool for rate base adjustment. For others it is the cheapest - no, I mean the most cost-effective - path of delivery. There are several titles that I know of that ship their subscriptions instantly upon receipt. In my discussions with them they are successful with this approach, they deem it a worthwhile investment and their readers are respectful of the speedy delivery.
What are you doing to change the trajectory of the print business? Some would say that print's charm is the actual off-line analog product. But the product itself doesn't require we deliver it as slowly as is possible. I suggest that a hundred-year-old business plan and delivery system needs a strong review.
Will a revised delivery plan work for everyone? No. Will it work for many? Yes, but only if you change the proposal of what you sell from a commodity to a luxury. A commodity can reasonably be shipped in a month or two as it is of minimal perceived value. The very fact of the slow speed of delivery openly declares its value to the publisher and the reader. "Yes, I want it, but I don't care when I get it." Why not, it is a cheap product. Some rate based subs cost as little as $5.00 a year.
But a luxury product that is expensive to buy is worth the price of a quick delivery. I suggest that speed of delivery and the reader's experience from the onset of the client relationship helps to fuel publishing success. Does this change the way we do our business? Why yes, it does.
I have stated for decades that print will not go away. But it's survival is dependent on changing the value proposition of the deal. There is an old axiom "perception is reality", for the purposes of this discussion I will quote a variation by of all people Henry Kissinger, "The real distinction is between those who adapt their purposes to reality and those who seek to mold reality in the light of their purposes."