Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Buy A Magazine & Save The Book Industry

The book publishing world recently gathered at Book Expo America to take a pulse of where things are and to determine where things are heading. Things, to me, appear steady, even though the industry continues to change with the times. But the magazine publishing industry, at the same time of the convention for books announced a big change, and it’s not a good one.

The nation’s No. 2 wholesaler is closing up shop. Only two big wholesalers remain. This means two large  companies are selling everyone’s magazines to every airport, drugstore, bookstore - and wherever magazines are sold, including newsstands. But the industry is bleeding red ink.

In the five years ended in 2013, according to The New York Post, the retail magazine business has shrunk by 40%, to less than $3 billion annually. Now, that doesn’t mean the whole magazine industry is in the toilet. Most magazines are sold via subscriptions, and most of the publishers' revenues comes from advertising. But, if we look at the long-term health of the industry, it’s not good. When newsstand sales decrease it makes it harder to introduce new readers to a publication. Eventually, your subscribers die out or move on.

The lack of magazine sales can hurt books in a number of ways:

First, if fewer people go to a place to buy a magazine it could mean they are making fewer trips to places that also sell books.

Second, if people aren’t buying magazines, they are likely getting their content online for free. Again, not good for a book industry looking to charge for content.

Third, if magazines have fewer readers then fewer people see their stories that may review, feature, or reference books, further eroding book sales.

In the book world there’s a wide perception that many sales of books are moving to the digital side. The truth is, they aren’t. Only 12% of all book sale revenue comes from e-books. Why is this so? Well, first it’s because e-books are cheap. 1 in 4 books sold in America are e-books but they account for less than 1 in 8 sold, revenue-wise. Still, even when you look at the ebook units sold, 73% prefer their book not to be an ebook, based on the formats they purchased last year. However, in adult fiction, digital is strong. In fact, 40% of all e-book revenue in 2013 was in adult fiction books.

The industry – both book and magazine publishers – still need printed publications sold in stores to do well. They sell for more money than digital or a subscription, and they allow for discoverability. And when bookstores do well, they exist to service a valuable book ecosystem. Bookstores build a community, not just of readers, but of people in general.

Even if you love reading everything on a screen, for the sake of the economy, community, the authors, publishers, and fellow citizens who value the content provided, find a way to support local stores and consume printed publications. Consider it as a donation to a good cause, ‘cause without bookstores this society won’t seem so advanced to me.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, 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 © 2014

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