Archive for November 2007

Change the audience or change for the audience?

November 30, 2007

So maybe I already mentioned… wait, checking… no I didn’t.. Ok, I art direct a high-end audio publication, whose demographic in a nutshell is an older male, kids (if any) have split for the big city, lots of time on his hands which he doesn’t remember having a few years ago, and some disposable income to blow on some high-end audio equipment. The magazine has a very established readership, and a very highly regarded (in its own field) editorial staff. I mean, they really don’t come much better than this bunch in the world of audio equipment. (The challenge I face with this particular magazine is working around enormous amounts of copy, and an incredibly small art budget. We basically have to rely on manufacturer supplied photography for almost all our products. I use the entire art budget each issue on photography for the cover and feature well, which I think we do a good job of considering our financial and reader expectations.)  What worries me however is the age of our readership. I’m not trying to be rude or funny here – we target a very specific age bracket, and they’re not getting any younger. So how do we start planning now for ten years or more down the road when our readership may literally be dying off? How do we gradually introduce new concepts to such a narrow and expectant readership? (more…)

Why a blog about magazines?

November 30, 2007

Have you been to the magazine section in Barnes & Noble recently? Or Borders? Or even the gas station down the street where they still ask for my i.d. even though I’m obviously in my thirties at least? Magazines are everywhere. It’s ridiculous. If I was an alien race plotting a silent invasion of our planet, I wouldn’t choose to be a transforming car, or bury myself underground thousands of years in the past until Tom Cruise happens to be there when I awake from my slumber. No, I’d disguise myself and my minions as magazines of all shapes and sizes, watching and waiting as unsuspecting humans everywhere paid for me, took me home to read my alien propaganda and left me in every room in the house. Then, assuming my paper cohorts and I had planned in advance how to do something more threatening than just stun you with multiple exclamation marks, we’d make our move and eliminate the human race. So this hasn’t really answered my own question. Why a blog about magazines? Because I don’t believe that enough credit is given to the significance of a reader’s choice of magazine, and I’d like to explore the reasons behind those choices, from dedicated, enthusiast-mag readers to random purchases in the gas station at 2:13am. What keeps readers reading? What defines a successful magazine beyond advertising sales? Is there always a market for more titles or are there already too many? And above all else, how many are there that are actually worth giving your valuable time and money to?