Printed media business is booming last year (and early this year). Everyone who has extra money to be invested will look for this field (in my country, Indonesia precisely – I don’t know abroad). Well, why not? This business promises quite fast break even period. Very interesting!

I’m not surprised with this phenomena. I will tell you the secret why this business could be looked so interesting and why I’m saying that it’s near its end.

This business doesn’t not ask for big investment. Let’s say, you have a team of 4 person. This is minimum requirement for a small magazine (less than 50 pages per issue). One will act as Chief Editor, one as Editor, one as Designer, and one as Advertising Executive. The Chief Editor will help the Editor and Advertising Executive off course. You can expect freelance writer to write for your magazine every months. The circulation will be outsourced with profit sharing mechanism.
With good relationship (from the person/team or maybe from the investor) with the vendor, I think you can have the advertisement easily (suppose that your magazine coverage is interesting to, let’s say a lifestyle/gadget/gender/adult magazine). Minimum 5 pages of advertisement at standard (competitive) price should be enough to cover the printing cost up to 7500 copies (with less than 50 pages per issue). Of course, you need to pay the salary of your employees. This will be coveraged by the sales of your magazines. Consider only 5000 copies sold at standard (competitive) price, this should be enough to pay all the salaries and monthly costs.

Interesting eh? 😉

Then, the trend goes to free magz!
This is again a very interesting phenomena. When some magazines are reducing their price, some others (new comers) offer free magz. Of course they can’t offer the free magz in big quantity (usually less than 5000 copies) and their coverage is usually limited to certain areas or communities. But why free magz? I think this is due to the phenomena of the competition itself. The competition is very hard and deadly. No one in this world will deny a free stuff. The key is in the quantity. If it’s free, then the acceptance should be good. And if you have enough capital, you can produce more copies. More copies mean more quantity and more coverage in terms of area. If you have a magazine with big circulation (means big quantity and everyone reads your magz) then you have the bargain with vendor/advertisers (hey man, over 1 million readers read my magz! Could you imagine the effect if you advertise in my magz? – that’s what we call a bargain). As I’ve told you, minimum 5 advertisers should be sufficient to print up to 7500 copies with up to 50 pages per issue (the advertisement rate is at competitive one). If your magz is booming, of course your advertisement rate should be raised (perhaps you just need 3 advertisers to print up 7500 copies at 50 pages per issue). And I don’t have to explain the rest. You can make your own conclusion 😉 The price of the magz itself is no longer interesting (free should be ok). We are looking for the advertiser’s money! That’s big… very big, dude!

Nature’s law: Survival for the fittest
This is very common in any business field. The strongest, the fastest, the richest, or perhaps, the luckiest should lead the way. This is happening in my country. Some magz are currently in the edge of the life. The advertisers count are still the same, but the magz are growing up. They (the magz) have to share the same cake and the advertisers are going to be more selective to spend their money (sure they have no budget to advertise at all magz, right?).

Up to the end of this years, I believe some magz are going down. I can’t mention the name or give you some clues. But the news are getting stronger about this bad condition. Still, the strongest, the fastest, the richest, or the luckiest will stand there, but the rest will be eliminated.

New trend: Online media
New media business goes to online way. Why online? First, Internet is everywhere (not really everywhere in all country, but I believe the penetration is good and increasing). Second, it’s fast. You have to wait until end of the week or month to read new magz. But with online media, you can read right at this second. Third, it’s cheaper. No need to think about circulation, distribution, printing cost, etc. When there is an Internet, there is a way to your media 😉

The income scheme is the same with printed media. You can count your readers from the log/statistic of your web server. You can easily check how many people access you site in detail (let’s say activities during a certain period or just checking the readers’ geographical information). If your site looks busy/active with millions hits, then your advertisement price should be raised high. Of course you have to consider to use a more sophisticated server and buy higher bandwidth. Otherwise, you readers will experience slow connection and may have bad experience with your web site. This is not cheap, but simply grow linearly with your hit and your advertisement price increase as well.

For some countries, this online media is not a new things. But in some countries, there are some failure example of online media. Why? Simply, we have to check the culture first.
Not all people are interested to read from their computer’s monitor. Most of them still prefer to read printed media. With printed media, they can read on the bed or on the rest room (I bring my PDA to the rest room and access the news or chat via Wi-Fi, but not everyone would do that ;)). For this kind of people, computer is just an aid, but not mandatory equipment. Of course, the implementation of online media for this kind of people would result in a total failure.

So, what should you do? For this case, try to live in two world. Keep your printed media business along with your online media. For daily updates, use your online media. For weekly/monthly updates (for not urgent things), use printed media. Perhaps, you can use your online media to build an IT Community (a forum maybe?). The printed version may cover things that can’t be handled by the online version or as collection from the online version. This will cost you more, but very good to build your brand image. Whenever you are ready to totally move to online (and stop your printed version), you already have a rock solid brand image. You’ll never regret for the cost that you have spent to build your brand image.

So, is this the end for printed media? The answer is YES and NO 😉 It depends on the country. For some country which Internet has become a common cheap things, I think the printed media business is really on big trouble (reducing price or even freeing your magz perhaps will be your only option). But for some other countries, which Internet is still expensive, the printed media business still has the opportunity to survive. Not everyone used to bring their PDA and read news in the bath room via wireless connection, right? My father prefers a news paper 😉