Are Print Magazines Disappearing From Dog Enthusiasts?

From At Large: "It Doesn't Have to be War." Dogs in Review, September 2010

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When Henry Ford started mass producing cars in the early 1900s people thought the horse would become an endangered species. Everyone expected movies to kill radio, and in the 1950s the film studios panicked when TV arrived, because they assumed it was the end for Hollywood. After computers there would be no need for paper, we were told — and now, for the past few years, we keep hearing how the Internet spells doom for print publications.

Don’t you believe it. Sure, things change, but really brilliant ideas — and printed books and magazines are among the best ideas that civilization has come up with since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1436 — won’t go up in smoke. They just change, adjust, and find a niche that fits the new conditions. We don’t (often) get pulled in horse-drawn carriages anymore, but there are more “hobby” horses now than ever before in the US: 9.2 million in 2005. Movies didn’t kill radio, and Hollywood learned to benefit from TV and the home video market; in any case, the 1.42 billion movie tickets sold in 2009 represent a higher figure than those in the previous five years. And if you have a computer you probably have a printer, so you know as well as I do that you’re printing, if anything, far more paper today than you used to...

The rumor of print media’s death is vastly exaggerated. In fact, magazine readership — overall, not just Dogs in Review — has grown over the past five years. Paid subscriptions reached nearly 300 million in 2009, four out of five adults read magazines, and (surprise?) magazine readership in the 18-to-34-year demographic is growing: they read more issues and spend more time per issue than their over-34 counterparts. The average reader spends 43 minutes reading each issue (a lot more for Dogs in Review, I bet), and magazines score significantly higher than TV or the Internet in “ad receptivity” and all the other engagement dimensions, including “trustworthy” and “inspirational.” Research studies show that when consumers read magazines — and magazine ads — they are less likely to engage with other media compared to the users of TV, radio or the Internet. Magazines also outperform other media in “purchase consideration/intent” and, ironically, magazines even rank as No. 1 at influencing consumers to start a search online… which, of course, means that print and electronic media are in fact interdependent.

All this information is documented in a major ad campaign rolled out by print magazine publishers earlier this year, with headlines such as “We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines.” and “Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?”

What has changed, and will continue to change, is the role of print media. Nothing can beat the Internet for speed in bringing you news (we all want to know who won today’s show immediately... preferably within minutes after it happened), so the printed magazine’s job is now less to bring you news than to analyze, document and preserve it for posterity. The Internet is by definition a transitory medium: once you click off you can never be sure the page or site you were looking at will be there next time, and most of the time there’s no accountability. The downside of the Internet’s great accessibility is that anyone can say pretty much anything without worrying about the facts.

Many of us just plain love reading print magazines. An hour with Newsweek, Time, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated or, OK, Dogs in Review will give the reader a much more well-rounded view of that particular corner of the world than any amount of surfing the net can do.

I’ll happily admit I Googled a half-dozen times while writing this short article. But did you know that in the 12-year life of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent? It doesn’t have to be war!

We hope you, like thousands of other serious, intelligent dog fanciers everywhere, will enjoy this issue of Dogs in Review.


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