Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As print media dwindles, magazines raise prices

The New York Times recently reported on the way magazine prices are affecting the magazine industry.

"Fifty-eight cents.

For that, you could get one-eighth of a Starbucks latte.

It is also what subscribers paid, on average, for each issue of Time magazine last year. This is the Time magazine that sends foreign correspondents into Zimbabwe, assigns photographers to capture the war in Afghanistan, and fact-checks and edits every word before issues are printed. And that is before its costs for ink, paper and postage," wrote Stephanie Clifford in her article.

The New York Times article also mentioned that most magazines are under a dollar per issue for the subscribed rate.
"In the last six months of 2008, subscribers paid an average of 47 cents an issue for Newsweek, 77 cents an issue for BusinessWeek and 89 cents an issue for Fortune, according to an analysis of their filings with the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Even Condé Nast's magazines, filled with luxury ads and dispatches from far-flung locations, are cheap: 87 cents an issue for The New Yorker, 89 cents for Allure and just over a dollar each for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit."
However, the main focus of the article was about how magazines can get more money despite the decline in advertising revenue.  Interestingly enough, magazines that have higher prices are more succesful than lower-priced magazines.

Apparently, many magazines set the costs of the magazine subscription lower than the production costs because they were banking on the advertisment revenue.  The cost of mailing alone is over 80 cents, higher than the price of a subscription.

Magazines that raise their prices don't receive a sharp decline in subscriptions, and they are usually using less agents to sell their subscriptions, which means they get to keep more of the money from the subscriptions.

“Think about the cost of a movie ticket. Think about the cost of your subscription for cable television. Think about the cost of going to a sporting event,” Mr. Clinton, the Hearst marketing chief, said. Those industries, he said, “have kept pace in passing on more of the cost to the consumer, and the consumer’s willing to pay for it.”
My favorite magazine is The Economist.  I love everything about the paper: the high academic quality of the writing, the 100% editorialized content, the openness of bias, and the lack of a byline (believing the quality of the writing should be judged before the quality of the writer).  The Economist is doing the best of all of the magazines right now.  If you buy The Economist at cover price, it costs $6.99.  If you buy The Economist at subscription price, then it costs $1.96.

Despite the high prices, subs
criptions are up 60 percent since 2004, and newsstand sales have risen 50 percent, according to the audit bureau.

“We get more money out of our readers than advertisers, and that’s a very different model,” said Alan Press, senior vice president for marketing in the Americas at the Economist Group. “We’ll never discount the kind of content we have.”
This is all a very interesting concept; however, I have to agree with Alan Press from The Economist and Michael Clinton of Hearst Magazines that the magazine should be written FOR the reader, with quality assurance geared TOWARDS the reader, and paid for BY the reader, rather than for, towards, and by the advertisers.  I know The Economist is more expensive, just like The Wall Street Journal; however, both are the top quality print media and I believe they are worth the higher expenses.

What do y'all think?


  1. Great topic, I saw a small article relating to the subject in the NY Times recently. However, I'm not sure i agree about the pricing.

    Yes, a magazine with responsible journalism, important information and entertaining content should be priced appropriatley but can any else imagine paying seven dollars for a magazine? If I want news, I turn to newspapers, paper or online, or televised news (rarely though). When I want to wind down and relaxe, I turn to magazines.

    Times are still tough, and though we all have to do our part to help our current economic state, over pricing magazines doesn't seem like it will help solve the disappearing act of print news and entertainment.

  2. I understand the price increase, and although raising prices on anything seems unfair, if a magazine catches my attention, spending 2-4 dollars doesn't seem like too much to me. And technology is increasing so rapidly that they are losing consumers. I tend to use the internet, or watch the news to find information, just like many others. When the price hits over 4 or 5 dollars for a 80-120 pg magazine, then I think we'll have a real problem.

  3. Prices change so much that it is not even funny anymore these days. Magazines don't really sell anymore because they are too expensive to buy and read.

    In fact over at Food Lion, we rarely sell a magazine or book unless they are on sale. I think there already is a problem with that Stephenie, magazines have already hit $4 to $5 in all stores. I don't think there is any change coming soon as long as the companies have their way because they are greedy.