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Friday, July 14, 2006

Magazines industry has collapsed.

A speaker at a BBC magazines conference reported to the assembled delegates that the number of Magazines in South Korea had fallen by 65% in eight years. It was argued that the driver of this dramatic decline was technology and the Internet.

I am not sure if South Korea can be seen as a bellwether for the rest of the publishing world, but it might be. Think about this thought, if business magazines still devote around 40% of their content to "news" and that news is available 24/7 on the web, what is the point of the magazine?

This may be death of business magazines by a thousand cuts. Recruitment has largely gone to the web, news has gone, display advertising is moving at an ever faster rate into roi measurable internet search solutions. The cuts are getting deeper, blood is beginning to pour.

So what must business media publishers do? The first task, and its a big one, is to stand up every morning and say to themeselves and their people, "Our magazine business as we know it is dying and unless we change the way in which we think we are doomed to bankruptcy."

Not many will do this for fear of scaring the shareholders and the staff. But, as they say, you can't deal with your alchohol problem until you admit you have a problem. This is a big subject but here are five issues that recovering business magazine publishers should be addressing.

1) If business magazines are not for publishing news, what are they for?
2) How can business pubilshers fully integrate the digital and off line products to create a single branded information solution?
3) What will the economics of business publishing look like in a post news magazine world?
4) Who are the real competitors that business publishers should be worried about in the digital world.
5) How quickly can business publishers adapt the offline products to make them relevant and useful in an online world.

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