Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Digital vs Print War: Did It Kill Magazines?


This month Media 24 announced that Seventeen Magazine South Africa will no longer be published. The reasoning behind this decision comes as no shock to me. Seventeen Magazine will be taken off the shelves due to financial reasons.

“This decision to close seventeen SA is based on the long term financial prospects of this brand,” says John Relihan, CEO of Media24 Magazines. - Seventeen SA Press Statement

Seventeen SA Press Statement

Do people still buy magazines? I don't. The only reason I have magazines in my apartment is because I got them for free. I do not read South African magazines anymore because the content is repeated every single month and they are just plain boring. Will better content save magazines? I think not.

With more blogs being created every single day, there is no need to read a magazine, you can make your own. If you do not have the willpower to run your own blog, you could always read the millions of blogs that are on the internet today.

The target market of magazines like Seventeen grew up with the internet. Those of us who were born before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs still remember what it is like to read your mother's magazine ... after she read it. I guess that is why it is difficult for some of us to let go of the idea of physical books and magazines. I still buy all my textbooks while others prefer to read from their laptops, or if you lucky, tablets.

With everything becoming digital, is print still relevant? I don't think it will be relevant in the next 10 years, but it definitely will be relevant when my children have grandchildren.
Our parents grew up listening to records on a gramophone. We grew up with cds and ipods.
Seven years after getting my first ipod I walk into Musica and I find out that they are selling records. Not records that my parents used to listen to; Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and John Mayer. I immediately wanted one. Unfortunately the price of a record player made me rethink my decision.
What I am saying is that print will soon become a souvenir of the past. Don't be too quick to throwaway your classic novels and download them on your ipad, your grandchildren might want to the stories of the past from books.

Even though digital magazines might be the way most people will soon prefer to read magazines, it still does not mean that the publishing industry has a chance at surviving the blogging social media storm.

Why should I read the same articles every month when I can go to someone's blog and read about their travels or everyday lives. Or better yet, I can see their daily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?
Why should I buy magazines to see what is trending on the runway when I can browse through a fashion house's Instagram feed?
Why should I buy a magazine to see how to dress the latest trend when I can scroll through personal blogs and lookbook.nu?
Did I mention I can do all of this for free? Of course I would have to pay for the internet data but wifi is free these days.

Lookbook

The digital wave did not kill [South African] magazines. Magazines killed themselves. Cause of death: the inability to stay relevant to their target market.

American and British magazines are surviving the digital wave because they give readers what they want and what they need. Because the internet is increasing the rate of globalisation, it is easier for South Africans to read international magazines and realise that what we have in South Africa is not up to standard.
I do understand we are a young nation but most South African blogs are better than what is sold on the shelves.

Understandably Seventeen SA is being dropped because teenage girls are not buying the magazines and they are not buying it because they have found other resources that provide them with what Seventeen SA used to provide them with.

For everyone who wanted to intern at Vogue after watching The Devil Wears Prada, think of another career, or at least come up with a plan to save magazines, especially the South African ones. Until South African editors realise the problem at hand, there will be more magazines taken off the shelves in months to come.

Comments from the Seventeen SA Press Statement

“The South African youth market remains an important focus for our group. We are developing a number of new projects, across different platforms and will continue to serve the South African youth market in relevant new ways.” - John Relihan

It's sad that Seventeen SA will no longer be published. I still remember the content of all the issues I used to buy and so will others. With proper research and content, the magazine could rise again to be the beloved teen magazine we all know it to be.

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