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Friday, September 27, 2013

Publishing's Bottom Line Is No Longer Topless


The old adage “sex sells” may still hold swagger, but there are signs that such a formula no longer holds true for the magazines of the adult entertainment industry.

The owner of Penthouse magazine just filed for bankruptcy. The magazine once boasted of five million readers. It’s down 96% from its peak, to just 200,000 monthly consumers. Chief competitor, Playboy, has also seen a huge circulation erosion over the years.

Several factors are at play:

-Free content readily available
-Stiffer competition
-Online competition

Penthouse likely won’t survive.

In the past decade they started including x-rated DVDs with each magazine purchase. The magazine photos of naked women used to be enough to get eyeballs. Then it went hardcore and added males to the featured pictorials. All of its competitors do the same except Playboy, making it difficult for any of them to stand out.

The world of publishing needs to take note, even if the world Penthouse lives in seems to look  vastly different from most of mainstream book, magazine, and newspaper publishing. How much can something change, in form, to compete with what’s out there, without losing the essence of what it’s been?

Will book publishers one day package movies with books? Will they hype the free downloads associated with a book more than the book itself? Will books change their format to the point of being unrecognizable as a book?

Imagine if you were to get a new spouse every three or four years and change homes and jobs as often. That’s what it feels like to be in the arts and entertainment industry--so much change is swirling about. There seems to be a little stability right now, but that of course will change as soon as another technological development occurs.

But there is a predictable pattern to watch. Once an institution sees a decrease in sales, it never comes back. Publishers and publications, thus far, have not been able to answer for its readership losses. We can only hope they come up with a formula for survival.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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