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The Final Word by Chuck Swann
In a previous column, we examined the parlous state of newspapers in America. Many have closed up shop and the rest are struggling to remain relevant and solvent. Publishing newspapers requires large investments in staff, structure, equipment and presses. Many newspapers in the western world have been forced to cut their losses and close their doors. Those remaining in print are increasingly turning toward side-by-side offerings in the digital publishing world of the Internet to salvage what is left of their fortunes.

Magazine publishing is, of course, quite different in the financial terms of what it takes to publish a title--which is why there have been so many of them--and why so many new titles keep coming on the scene.

Nearly all the broad-spectrum, general interest and news magazines of yesteryear are long gone--but they have been succeeded by a plethora of special interest publications. The special interest titles are called, in the vernacular of the magazine trade, "verticals," because they appeal to specialized slices of the public tastes. These are the so-called "hobbies and horses" magazines.

Samir Husni ("Mr. Magazine™") has clocked the magazine trade for years and has found that 2,235 new magazine titles have been launched since 2006. This count embraces titles with an intended frequency of four issues per year or more. Of this total, there were 616 survivors--just 27.57% of the total--by 2015. Most recently, the death rate among the 236 start-ups attempted in 2015 was 45%.

The journalism and media department of the Pew Research Center finds that news magazine circulation is shifting from print to digital, but printed magazine subscription numbers are generally stable, averaging 880,000 in 2015. Adding in single-copy sales brings the total average circulation in 2015 to 923,000. These rounded numbers include 14 news magazines focusing on business journalism, politics, culture or technology. On the digital front, the data show that more and more people are visiting news magazine web sites--so much so that some magazines are attempting "pay per view" schemes.

Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.

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