Trends in digital and print, part II

printLast week I looked at trends in print and digital media, with the takeaway being that while both print and digital are struggling in unique ways, they’re still great platforms to put your business out there.

This week I want to look at another interesting trend: digital media venues swimming against the tide.

Some popular websites are going against the current by actually starting up print magazines. For example, Politico is offering a print edition, as is Newsweek, which of course began as a magazine, then switched completely to digital and merged with the Daily Beast blog/news site.

However, both Politico’s and Newsweek’s goals are modest for print: 40,000 circulation for Politico, and 70,000 for Newsweek, which once tallied 3.3 million readers.

Digital media venues swimming against the tide with print

Why bother? In a turnaround, digital platforms now view print as the value-added, premium space for exclusive content. The web has become the place for cheap and/or free content, where companies hope to lure lots of eyeballs to entice advertisers, while print is positioned as being expensive, in-depth and exclusive—the opposite of the model just a few years ago. (Remember reading a magazine and seeing words like, “For a more detailed look, go to for insider photos, interviews and more”?)

These new print publications are seen as niche efforts with true premium content at an elite price—up to $150 a year for Newsweek. In fact, the air at Politico is so rare that you can’t even buy a print subscription. Politico in print is being distributed at no charge to “select influencers.”

Oftentimes these print mags have just one advertiser, perhaps one whose product or services are perfectly aligned with the small, target readership of the publication. For example, JP Morgan is sponsoring a year of Politico.

Who’d have thought this would be possible? Well, maybe there is something comfortable, friendly and enticing about print that digital can’t reproduce. Maybe our psyches just like an analog experience. Here’s more evidence for that theory: vinyl records. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a worldwide recording industry association, sales of vinyl records in the US bottomed at $36 million in 2006. However, the format has exploded since then, reaching $171 million in sales in 2012.

Why the rush for scratchy plastic? For some, it’s the sound, which they say is richer and warmer than digital. For others, it’s the album art, the legible lyrics, the posters or the smell. The smell? Sounds like we’re talking books and magazines.

It all goes to show that ultimately people like their content on multiple platforms, and there’s still something mystical and satisfying about ink and paper.

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