Kept alive by subscriber inertia, print magazines are going to be around for a while yet

Oh, nostalgia.
Oh, nostalgia.
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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Magazine publishers are struggling to figure out how to boost their digital revenues without pushing people away from print editions, while also battling the swarm of new, often free digital content available in the world.

Yet printed magazines will stick around for a while yet, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report out today (June 8) with a broad analysis of the US media and publishing industries.

Print circulation revenue was $6.9 billion in 2015, making up the bulk of magazines’ total $7.8-billion circulation revenue. And print is estimated to still comprise 56% of total consumer magazine revenue in 2020.

“The data is showing us that especially in certain categories, print magazines are not going to go away,” PwC consultant Chris Lederer tells Quartz, adding the publications that dabble in ”arts, crafts, hobbies, and other reference kinds of categories” have particular staying power.

It’s not exactly people’s unbridled enthusiasm keeping print magazines alive, though—more like inertia. As noted by the report:

Many subscribers also continue to enjoy the experience of reading magazines, with a routine for reading and enjoying them that is difficult to replicate in a digital edition. These subscribers are unlikely to switch to digital or cancel their subscription in the long term.

So the main thing magazines have to worry about is actually getting new readers to sign up and pay for their content. That can’t be too hard, right?