9 July 2014
Andrew Work launched Harbour Times, a Hong Kong political magazine
Taken at a global level, the magazine industry looks to be hurting. In 2012, the United States consumer magazine market was worth US$25 billion. A new report by PwC says that, by 2017, that figure will contract to $23 billion, and magazine revenues will continue to drop as print circulation falls. In the United Kingdom, Brad Insights says that 432 magazines folded between August 2011 and July 2013. This year’s worldwide trend report on the magazine market by Fipp suggests that magazines themselves are not dead – advertisers are just switching spending to digital publications.
Such sweeping statistics overshadow several success stories, according to Hong Kong-based businessman Andrew Work. In Washington, for instance, he says that political magazines such as the Daily Beast and Political Examiner have launched in print to good results; so good that he was inspired to publish a new political magazine, Harbour Times, last year in Hong Kong.
|Writer, artist and performer Peter Suart will take part in this month's HKTDC Hong Kong Book Fair, where he'll host a seminar and talk about his passion for the creative arts|
Harbour Times is among a number of new Hong Kong-based print magazines bucking the worldwide trend. International publishers Hubert Media and Edipresse Asia, which publishes Hong Kong Tatler, both say they have new publications in the pipeline.
Relevant to Asia
Yana Robbins is behind the launch of Jumpstart, targeting entrepreneurs and start-up companies
New technology is pushing publishers to offer both print and online editions. Earlier this year, Yana Robbins launched Jumpstart, targeting entrepreneurs and start-up companies. The magazine is available on iTunes and Issuu.com, mostly to capture readers outside Hong Kong. But Ms Robbins also wanted to stock print copies in places she knew her target audience would see the publication: in universities, shared working spaces and chambers of commerce. She likes print’s permanent quality and says readers do, too.
Despite the high penetration of digital devices in Hong Kong (Fipp puts mobile phone penetration in Hong Kong at 213 per cent of the population), there is still demand for print. “I think this is in part due to Hong Kong’s magazine market not being as oversaturated as it is in other cities,” says Ms Robbins. “There’s something special about holding a print magazine, and that sentiment is not going away anytime soon.”
Edipresse Media Hong Kong this month launched Home Solutions, an annual print magazine dedicated to interior design
Liam Greenall, Editorial Director of new magazine Plug agrees that print continues to engage readers. In the year since his magazine launched, he says, statistics show that online readers stay with the digital edition for five and a half minutes, but return three or four times to a printed issue. “Print is a tangible product; something you engage in. With online, it is quick and fast,” he says.
Print Remains True
|Jumpstart is available |
on iTunes and Issuu.com for readers outside
Targeted distribution to readers’ homes increases pick-up rates of his magazines, and a community focus keeps loyal readers interested, he says. Advertising in the magazine sees a peak in response toward the later part of a month’s cycle, indicating that readers hold on to magazine issues, read articles first, then refer back to them as a guide.
Print gave Lisa Christensen’s Ecozine added prestige. She launched the green living magazine as an online-only venture last year, but struggled financially, with advertisers pressing for a print publication. In May, Ms Christensen launched the first print edition to immediate praise. “Suddenly, we had email congratulations. We had writers wanting to write for us and suggesting stories. We couldn’t find writers before,” she says.
Now the print edition, on FSC-certified paper, is used as a tool to drive readers online and to attract custom publishing projects for companies wishing to produce greener publications. Ms Christensen says she plans to branch out across the region. “There’s really nothing else like us,” she says.
|David Eugene Smith, |
Regional Director of Advertising
and Sponsorship for The
Business models of international publications such as The Economist are evolving daily, he says. Advertising agencies are beginning to offer more exciting ad models online, and he predicts that full online migration is possible, but only over the next 10 years. Even then, he says, preference for paper will keep print in circulation, perhaps at a premium price point. “Like vinyl,” he says. “there will always be someone seeking print.”