Is the future of printed magazines all about doom and gloom? Actually, no. Even in the midst of the modern digital era, many magazines are thriving.
One factor weighting in is the current mini-renaissance of independent magazine titles. And in this case paper and ink have a rather surprising advocate.
"As a matter of fact, I attribute it to the internet. A lot of people have discovered their opinions and voices writing blogs and sharing in social networks. A natural next step is to create something tangible and permanent," said Jeremy Leslie in an interview in The Guardian in 2013.
Leslie is the man behind magculture.com, a blog for anyone interested in editorial design. He sees today as a golden age of creative innovation in magazines.
Extending the reach with print
Leslie is hardly alone with his thoughts. Even Scott Dadich agrees, and his role has always been about bringing the digital revolution to Condé Nast, a media company that publishes some of the industry's biggest brands like Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.
In November, Dadich was named editor-in-chief of Wired, the magazine dealing with technology and futurism. In 2010 Wired was the first magazine to launch an iPad edition – and Dadich was the main architect of its iPad app. Does he think that print still has an important place in magazine publishing?
"Absolutely. Magazines are an enduring form of media, whether they are on paper or pixels. The fundamental notion of a collection of thoughts and ideas that's well designed and carefully curated is something that's built to last," he stated in Adweek in February 2013.
To prove the point, even some of the internet's biggest names – including the mighty Google – are publishing print magazines. They use traditional media to refresh the parts of their business model that other solutions can't reach. For them, print is a good way to get more marketing attention and to boost their community.
Some skepticism towards iPad editions
But there are also those who do not believe that magazines should be omnipresent in the digital world. One of the most well-known proponents of this view is Tyler Brûlé.
In many ways, Brûlé is the archetype of a modern media magnate. He has founded design magazine Wallpaper and now edits Monocle, a magazine devoted to international relations, travel and style. But Brûlé defied the received wisdom of the media industry by being an early advocate of online paywalls. He is also surprised at how many publishers have cut their investment in print as they concentrate on efficiency.
Monocle's subscribers pay about 100€ a year to view website articles as well as to get the print edition. According to Brûlé it would have been folly to invest in all the quality stories and editorial – and then annoy the core readership by giving it all away free.
The views of Tyler Brûlé find an echo in the opinions of British consumers; most readers are still fond of the printed form. For example, Deloitte's Media Consumer Survey 2013 found that 75% of UK magazine readers aged 14 to 75 prefer to read magazines via print. Over 70% spend more time reading print magazines than online.
It also seems that the power of the printed word has great value in advertising. The Finnish research institute VTT found that despite changes in media consumption in recent years, consumers continue to have most trust in advertising in magazines and newspapers.