More trade magazines become history

Last week Reed Business Information in the USA announced that it is to close all the controlled circulation magazines which it hasn’t managed to sell off in the past six months. These are Building Design+Construction, Chain Leader, Construction Bulletin, Construction Equipment, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Control Engineering, Converting, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, Graphic Arts Blue Book, Graphic Arts Monthly, HOTELS, Logistics Management, Material Handling Product News, Modern Materials Handling, Plant Engineering, Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, Purchasing, Restaurants & Institutions, Semiconductor International, Spec Check, Supply Chain Management Review and Tradeshow Week.

This awful news has been taken by some as evidence that trade magazines “just don’t work” any more. Whilst that’s possible, as I’ve written before, I don’t believe it means trade magazines can’t work. But very few are showing the imagination to adapt and integrate with the different ways B2B audiences consume information. I was in a company marketing department the other day and looked at their extensive rack of recent trade magazines. Almost every one looked like it could have been published in 2000 or even 1990, and that was sad. Where was the innovation?

Knowing what I do about costs and revenues in magazine publishing, I estimated at least half of the titles I looked at that day must have been published at a loss. I hope that for once, the UK market won’t be following the US one, but it’s going to need something of a turnaround if it’s not to happen. Magazines aren’t dead: I bet you have plenty around the house, many which you’ve voluntarily paid for. But the trade sector needs to get its act together.

Discussion

  1. Andrew Bond

    Hello Chris
    Couldn’t resist making a comment since we’ve discussed this one before. Far from the UK following the US, this is one case where the US is doing the following. Many of the leading titles in the UK, some of which you and I have worked on, went the way of all flesh many years ago but you’re right about the lack of innovation. UK trade publishers, much like their US counterparts, have still not accepted that the ‘controlled circulation’ model of readers getting content for free and advertisers picking up the tab (as well as providing much of the content) is irretrievably broken. Publishers have to re-educate readers into paying for their content but to do that they have to provide content worth paying for.

    Andrew

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