In the future, magazine brands will be producers, endorsers, commissioners, curators, designers, and promoters – but they won’t primarily be bundlers. The bundle may still exist, but it will be a much smaller piece of the magazine business than it is today. The printed product, for instance, might ultimately be a prestige item distributed occasionally as a supplement to, or showcase of, the brand’s best work according to a particular theme or period of time. It’s difficult to envisage a printed product that in 10 years will be profitable when produced on a weekly or monthly basis.
And magazine publishers, as well as the journalists and editors who write them, will either adapt or go out of business.
It’s an interesting idea, and we’re seeing it start to happen today in some ways, with the emphasis on individual stories and sharing them through social media. I also see a lot of stories from co-owned e-news sites republished in each other’s feeds. Ars Technica carries Wired articles, and vice versa. But there are still plenty of e-magazines that publish entire monthly issues that download into your tablet in one big chunk.
I wonder how many of those there will be in five or ten years?