Today, we broke the news on MediaConnect of PC World shutting its print edition to make the transition to online.
Duncan Riley then blogged the news for TechCrunch a couple of hours later. He opined “I’m betting that 2008 may well turn out to be the year of the dying print magazine”.
Riley argues that in the case of a magazine like PC World, “where exactly is the appeal, particularly in tech, of reading a magazine that reports on news that is 6-8 weeks old, or sometimes even older than that?”
With all due respect to Duncan, it’s naive to think that there will suddenly be a mass collapse of print media. The tech print media should be dead already if you subscribe to the kind of argument that Duncan has made, however the reality is that in the personal technology space it has been remarkably resilient. In fact, over the last five years we’ve had just about as many launches as we’ve had closures. Even this year, we’ve had the launch of the Telstra/GadgetGuy magazine Australian Go which will go to over 100,000 readers to counterbalance the closure of PC World.
It’s foolhardy then to use the closure of just one magazine to proclaim the rapid end to print magazines.
The reality is the Australian PC magazine market was overcrowded and someone had to go. (There are still around 10 PC-style magazines in this country!!) PC World have done the best of the magazines down here in moving to online so it made sense for them to focus on the area of growth for them. However, it’s worth noting that market leader PC User bucked downward trends this year by recording an increase in its most recent audit.
So yes, there has been definite circulation declines and advertising has fallen significantly but publishers continue to adjust and reinvent magazines to make them relevant to the publishing environment they’re in. I don’t expect any of PC World’s competitors to shut down in 2008.