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the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones

Magazine Industry

Since World War Two, America's population has almost doubled and the number of different periodicals has more than doubled, but there are fewer readers. For most magazines, this means that survival depends upon lowered criteria; staffers do more with less, and readers get less in the same package. With a shrinking audience, an expanding industry maintains survival sales by enlisting readers who are multiple subscribers. The objective is not to steal readers to succeed, but to add a new product that will be appealing to existing customers. This anti-capitalistic concept means that subscriber loyalty is anti-competitive.

The telecommunications industry is supposed to absorb or displace the print industry; and this theory propounds that a market collapse takes both good and bad specimens with it. The reality is that television and radio are complementary to the internet; and that all electronic media are complementary to print media. The highest circulation print magazine is TV Guide, and niche magazines cited in specialty broadcasts usually garner significant increases in subscriptions. People will only read short (500 - 700 words) pieces on the WWWeb, but will download and print any longer item that's of interest. Although electronic manipulation is relatively simple and convenient, people still prefer to mark-up a print copy, and work from written notes.

The two principal approaches to periodical publishing are new product promotionalism and laisser-faire ("build it and customers will come"). It's easier to retain than to acquire customers; because new always implies better, more interesting, less expensive, which cannot be delivered without qualitative compromises. If all other factors are equal, the best time to launch a new periodical is in the fall season; when readers are not on vacation or preoccupied with finances. The life-cycle of any single magazine is unconnected to all others; so a poor market will not diminish a popular issue, nor will a growth trend buoy unpopular issues. The median circulation of American magazines is 70,000, with advertisers most interested in those above 100,000, but an unsubsidized specialty magazine can survive with a circulation between 7,000 and 10,000 readers. The low survival rates for small businesses apply to publishers as well; with 50% of all new magazines failing during the first year, and 70% (1995) to 85% (1985) failing within the subsequent four years. Even after many years of relative success, maladaption can alienate readers and mismanagement can compromise resources. Unlike industry trends, external sociopolitical or macroeconomic factors can devastate a specialty magazine.


C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones