PODCAST: Magazines Help Combat Digital Fatigue

Central New York Magazine offers a shining example



Christine Dunne



While the impact of digital communication on print is difficult to dispute, there’s also evidence to believe readers are craving hardcopy experiences.


“The writing is really different for a print piece versus digital,” said Amy Bleier Long, co-editor of Central New York Magazine, an award-winning magazine focused on telling positive stories about Central New York. “You can really get into the emotion of it. You can really get into the backstory in print, and you don’t have to worry about ‘Is this going to come up in a search?’ You can really just focus on the why.”

Cover of Central New York Magazine’s March/April Issue

This love for print and its benefits drives Bleier Long and her co-editor, MJ Kravec, to put out a high-quality, 100-page magazine every two months. And it may partly explain why magazines have fared relatively well during the COVID-19 pandemic.


According to an analysis conducted by Press Gazette, the 50 biggest US magazines by circulation have seen their circulations fall by 7% over the past two years (from 125 million to 116 million) compared to 20% for newspapers during this period. And when it comes to the digital printing of magazines, Keypoint Intelligence is predicting substantial growth in print volume during the 2020-2025 forecast period—after quite a decline in 2020 due to the pandemic. This is being driven by digital fatigue, shorter run lengths as some volumes shift online, and customization.

Keypoint Intelligence’s Forecast for U.S. A4 Digital Print Volume for Magazines

Source: US Digital Production Printing Application Forecast 2020-2025
(Keypoint Intelligence, October 2021)

Overall, however, magazine print volume (including offset print) is on the decline. And magazine single-copy sales have fallen more than magazine circulation (-11%), according to the Press Gazette analysis.


Central New York Magazine is among several regional magazines that is looking to focus more on paid subscriptions (print and digital) versus other approaches like controlled circulation, where the magazine is distributed for free to households in high-income zip codes and is highly advertising-focused.


According to the Press Gazette’s analysis, the 50 biggest US magazines by circulation saw their digital subscriptions grow 70% over the last two years from 4.3 million to 7.3 million. One advantage of digital subscriptions, Bleier Long noted, is that publications can provide more frequent updates to readers. In addition to selling more subscriptions, Central New York Magazine is expanding its number of retail partners—including independent specialty shops in the Central New York area. When combined with the magazine’s niche focus, these moves are expected to help the magazine’s long-term viability.


“The fact we’re still valued by our advertisers and readers, it says something about focus,” Kravec said. “Like other publications, it’s a bumpy ride, but I think that the niche that focuses on telling positive local stories is what sustains us with our audience and advertisers.”


For more information on regional magazines, check out the City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA)’s website. And give my conversation with Bleier Long and Kravec a listen!




For more information about our most recent forecast or survey data exploring magazine print volume, please contact your Keypoint Intelligence account representative or send an email to sales@keypointintelligence.com.