In a time when the printed page is growing less valuable every day, magazines show the most future promise as a print medium. They are flexible, easily tailored to society’s niches, and can provide detailed, interesting, high-quality advertisements to the people who will actually be interested in them.
Their methods of production are also much more conducive to success in our day. They run monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually, allowing for higher quality and variety in the stories presented. They are relevant nearly indefinitely, and one magazine alone can be read by many people.
Their niche group of consumers is unlikely to drop them, as well. They appeal to one group in particular, and their content applies readily to that group, so their danger of becoming obsolete to their customers is low. Thus, their subscribers are usually a faithful bunch.
Of course, not all magazines were created equal. Trade magazines, which appeal to a specific niche market or group of people, are the category of magazines to which these advantages most readily apply. Consumer magazines (ex. Reader’s Digest, National Geographic), which try to be relevant to most of humanity, are in rapid decline. Their problem is similar to that of newspapers: they try to please everyone, and simply cannot do it.
Magazines also have the advantage of more sources for their content. While newspapers need specially trained reporters, well-versed in the writing formats that journalism requires, magazines can take in the work of freelance writers, essentially taking articles from any individual they deem qualified; the articles can reflect the humanity of the writer, and not just the information necessary.
In short, magazines show the most promise because they allow for the most flexible application to any given niche of society. They can appeal to any size of audience, and the more specific the audience, the more dependable and loyal their following of subscribers. Photographer Magazine will always be in demand by photographers, and the Ensign will always be subscribed to by Mormons. Backpacker Magazine will consistently be ordered by those who love the great outdoors, Wired by those in the tech industry, and MacWorld by those who really just want to get stuff done right.
What magazines do you read or subscribe to? Why do you continue to read them?