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A major part of the mix

In a turbulent year, print has been a mainstay at Mark Allen Group.

By Mark Allen

A major part of the mix

Until Covid-19 struck with such cynical force, we were all swimming against an irreversible tide which said that print is knackered. Digital is good. Events are the future.

The pandemic has turned this world on its axis. Sadly, the live events bubble has burst, at least temporally, and the migration to digital has happened at a pace. But the one thing that the coronavirus has demonstrated is that print refuses to die.

In the last turbulent year or so, it is the print magazines in my group, aided by the enhanced digital landscape, which have come to our rescue. When our accounts are audited, they will show that 2020-21 will be a record year for the Mark Allen Group.

It’s little wonder perhaps that the City hates print publishing: it’s messy, complex and unpredictable, dependent on all the variables being in sync.

There are so many things that can go wrong with a print publication, whether that is in editorial, advertising, design, production, circulation, distribution or marketing. Yet it always seems a miracle to me that most magazines come out on time to such high standards.

That’s why I like print, but not just from a sense of emotional security. It’s because I believe profoundly that, whilst print volumes will continue to decline, it still represents a major part of the mix in the foreseeable future. Print and digital: a great double act, but they need each other.

I am not the only person who thinks so. In one of the most turbulent years ever, 2020 saw 60 print magazines being launched in the United States alone.

Why? Publishing is a very entrepreneurial business, run by creative people, which is why it does not always sit comfortably in large corporations. You need very little capital outlay to launch a magazine. If you get it right, the margins can be very high. Digital seems easier and less costly but, invariably, this is simply not the case, and it does not capture the moment so easily as a magazine can.

Of course, digital is a major part of the future as well, particularly if its mission is simply to inform. However, digital is not, in my view, a pleasurable experience, especially now, huddled every day, as we have been at home, over our computers.

In a year when pleasure has been severely cauterised, a more hedonistic future beckons for us all. Therefore, I will predict that the next few years will see a glut of new magazine being launched – we are launching two ourselves this year – in all kinds of interesting areas. The pandemic has given print magazines a shot in the arm and thank goodness for that.

Print and digital: a great double act, but they need each other.

This article is part of our ‘Print Post-Pandemic’ special feature, looking at the future of print as we emerge from lockdown. The feature includes the following articles by leading publishers and suppliers:

A major part of the mix, by Mark Allen

Rewards extended dwell time, by Sally Hampton

Shout it loud: print is safe!, by Chris Horn

Targeted distribution is key, by Stephanie Hyde

New metrics needed, by Keiron Jefferies

Sustainability: consumers demanding more, by Sarah Lesting

We need to change the way we operate, by Nicola Murphy

Reasons for (justifiable) optimism, by Tim Robinson

Luxury is physical, by Piers Russell-Cobb

Positive outlook, by Adam Sherman

Subtle changes bring cost savings, by Julian Townsend

Turning ‘expensive’ into ‘premium’, by Neil Wass

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.