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'Serious decline' hangs over magazine market

Printing World reported this week, that the market for printed magazines will shrink to 40 per cent of current values within ten to 15 years according to a survey of leading publishers conducted by Pira, the UK-based independent Printing Industries Research Association.

As a result, printers will have to slash production costs by 50 per cent if they are to remain attractive to the publishing industry.

The findings have been published in a Pira report 'The future of Magazines and Direct Mail 2015 - 2020: Implications for the Printing Industry'.

Author, John Birkenshaw, delivered his findings at a conference hosted by Canon UK. The focus groups, which included company representatives from Condé Nast, IPC, NatMags and Reed Business Information, found that e-Publishing offered irresistible value for money.

The Pira report also predicted that printed TV listings magazines will be a thing of the past within five years and printed B2B magazines will be 'in serious decline within five years or sooner'. And while publishers were investing in new titles and experimenting with e-Media, they were not looking at new technologies in the magazine printing field.

Survey respondents offered up an alternative future for the magazine as a 'high price, prestige leisure item serving a specialist market produced in fairly small quantities as a by-product of an electronically delivered version'.

Among the doom-mongering, the report offered some technologically innovative ways for printers to cut costs. Printing might be done on lightweight, high quality coated recycled and recyclable paper, zero makeready times, press control devices, single-fluid inks and printed electronics. The report also suggests magazines could prove their worth by becoming more 'electronic', including machine readable links to Websites and adverts that allow for interactive ordering of advertised goods and services.

© Printing World on Graphic Repro On-line, 24 March 2006.