Breaking news from 1828 – Magazines are dying like a killer frost

I can’t figure out why (writer’s block, perhaps? busy celebrating the family’s recent windfall?), but typically entertaining and insightful BusinessWeek media pundit Jon Fine has this week fallen into a write-by-numbers rehash of the meme: “Magazines are failing.” His column starts out like this:

“For five years beginning in 2000, I had a job in which I wrote almost exclusively about the magazine business. It turned out to be a fine time to watch a flotilla of famous and not-famous magazines sail into eternity…

Predictably, it links (however, the URL’s owner is clueless for reasons he/she can figure out for themselves) to a blog devoted to being a magazine “death pool.” — something one might call the anti-Mr. Magazine.

If you’ve read this blog any length of time, you’ll know I’ve said the following ad naseum: Magazines launch, magazines die. They always have. They always will. Magazines are like TV shows: Some last many seasons, others are pulled by Halloween.

I ran across this quote* the other day:

“(Magazines are) springing up as fast as mushrooms, in every corner and, like all rapid vegetation, bear the seeds of early decay within them (and hundreds of magazines are rapidly folding like) a frost, a killer frost.”

The quote is from The New York Mirror and appeared in November, 1828.

Like I said, there is nothing new about the whole magazine death pool thing.

*The quote is found on page 12 of the book We Love Magazines.

  • When I was getting my BA in Advertising, I remember the current statistics that they gave us said advertising in all media was up for the past 10 years except for magazines which were on a steady decline. Interestingly enough, every magazine I’ve worked with since that time had grown year after year without any sign of decline. My feeling has always been the area that magazines can’t be beat are in their niches. Mass consumer titles skew the statistics because their numbers obviously show the most significant growths and declines. Not that we need ANOTHER debate on why magazine’s aren’t dead nor dying, but these things are so silly. I love that quote from 1828, though.