A brutal 2009 for the consumer magazine industry has given way to a smaller but more stable business environment. In other words, magazine publishing may have found a bottom this year, according to an analysis for Folio: by circulation consultant Baird Davis:
The simultaneous convergence of the three major bellwether indicators, along with signs of a modest advertising recovery in 2010, flattening newsstand sales and the success of a major new publication (Food Network), provide persuasive evidence that the consumer magazine industry is no longer searching for the bottom. The industry appears to have weighed anchor on a smaller business — whose parameters are 20-25 percent smaller — but one that’s ironically, perhaps, more vibrant than the bloated environment they have vacated.
Davis looks at circulation levels, newsstand sales and advertising revenue. He cautions that the Publishers Information Bureau stats he uses for revenue “canâ€™t be taken at face value,” but “the year over year percentage change data is a useful measuring tool.”
Davis concludes that the magazine industry’s future contains: a smaller industry overall; increasing dominance by Time Inc., Meredith, Hearst and Condé Nast; an enhanced focus on a female audience (he points out that traditional women’s titles like Good Housekeeping and Redbook “were the only significant sized consumer magazine category that was able to post positive advertising results in 2009”); and more orientation toward consumers.