Former Condé Nast editorial director James Truman spoke about the future of publishing at a San Francisco conference recently, and what he had to say sounds a lot like what we’ve been talking about in this space for the last few months.
Gawker Media’s io9 has a report: “Here’s what [Truman] decided about print magazines: They’re becoming obsolete, but the final stage along that path is to become luxury items. Look at horses, which became obsolete as a form of transportation after the car came along. The upkeep and gear for a horse used to be affordable to the average family, but now it’s a luxury bestowed on Muffy in the Hamptons on her sixteenth birthday.”
The report continues: “They won’t go away, but there will be fewer of them and they’ll be more expensive. … As magazines get to be more of a luxury item, they’ll become more fetishistic and less connected to utility.”
It’s not unlike what Mr. Truman told us back in April: “If you look at recent magazines that are successful businesses, many exist to satisfy only advertisers. Any publisher has to look at those as successful business models and successful business models tend to be copied. … Now editors are brand managers as much as they are editorial experts.”
If you want to consider the future of magazines, just consider which magazines hit the market this month.