Is there a future for business magazines?


I love the magazine format. I’ve admitted that on this blog quite a few times during the past decade.

However, I’ve also repeated many times that I am not a fan of the magazine business model — the mass media business model where a publisher depends on gathering a mass audience and selling ads to mass advertisers who’d like to reach that mass audience.

For me, the future of magazines is all about tightly focused, niche titles that serve groups of people who share a passion — a passion so deep that those who share it go seamlessly from web to mobile device to magazine to off-line meetups to learn and share as much as possible about that passion.

That’s why I believe the future of magazines is more likely to be found in today’s news that HP’s on-demand magazine service MagCloud will promote the service to the people who have created and manage the 50,000 wikis hosted by Wikia than in the news that Fortune Magazine is cutting back from 25 issues to 18 issues annually.

Wikis and on-demand, printed magazines? A marriage made in heaven, if you ask me.

But a mass market, general interest business magazine? Can’t see it in my crystal ball.

To me, the only business magazines with a future will be tightly focused business-to-business magazines that fit within an ecosystem of related products (online and off), services and events. Perhaps local or regional business magazines that do the same. But magazines intended for a broad business audience that depend on mass advertising as their primary business model?

The clock is ticking down, and it doesn’t stop at 18, 12, six or even four.

Related: That Strange Light you’re seeing is the future of magazines