Are magazines frozen in time?


Christine McKinnonAmid ongoing reports of the death of print, Carat’s Christine McKinnon looks at some possible future revenue streams for magazine publishers after encountering a ‘newsagent’ who didn’t sell magazines any more. Published in Mumbrella this week.

A fascinating article.Read here.




8 thoughts on “Are magazines frozen in time?

  1. Yes a very interesting read and an enlightening view into the future.

    It is refreshing to read about a Newsagency owner actually smiling. Cheerfully saying: “we don’t sell magazines anymore…no one bought them – we had too many returns – we make more money out of text books.”

    Wow, fancy that – a Newsagent that stocks stuff that people actually need for their kids. Who would have thought that attracting parents of school kids to their business might be a good way to make some money?

    Why is it that newsagents continue to work hard every day of the week on selling Magazines and Newspapers from which that they make miniscule profits. The simple answer is the human compulsion to stay in a comfort zone. True, it is understandable that we like “to do what we have always done” but the fact is it will send your business broke. And the worst part is that it is a slow and painful death.

    Every newsagent that has a school or two around them is letting tens of thousands of dollars in sales just pass them buy.

    The fact is that just a handful of local businesses that got serious about selling to parents of local school kids this year processed 58,521 school booklists orders and make sales of 8.1 Million Dollars.

    The newsagency channel is not dead it just persists in attracting the wrong type of customer.


    • Marg, as a booklist business you can see the advantages in engaging with schools and this is very successful for some newsagents and could be more so for others with the right demographics, attitude and ability. This can all be achieved whilst also maintaining a balance of products from magazines, lotto, stationery, cards and gifts etc.
      One of the reasons newsagents still exist after 100 years is the product MIX.
      But good on the business person who has seen where his profit lies and made decisions to focus on this area. That is what all business should do.


    • Each business is different. We have schools surrounding us but each year BTS was a failure for the last 4 years we’ve been here – can not compete with Coles, Woolies, Officeworks, Aldi, Big W on cheap stationery. But Yes, we listened to our customers by getting rid of 1 ailse of magazines to replace with school text books.

      Having said that, our magazines actually increased triple since we’ve took over this newsagency. The net profit from magazines is still more than text books. Stock turnover for magazines exceeding textbooks. I am not saying I wouldn’t sell textbooks but textbooks are not fast moving as magazines.

      We distribute magazines to 20+ subagents (service stations, general stores, tobacconists, sub-newsagencies, cafes, etc) – we found some subagents magazine sales have increased while others have decreased. There is no clear distinction which businesses doing better or which businesses doing worser. However, we do find that newspaper sales have decreased across the board.

      Therefore, my argument is not about selling magazines or not (or selling textbooks, or selling xxx products) but rather understand your customer demographic. Hence, “The newsagency channel is not dead it just persists in attracting the wrong type of customer” should be applying to all businesses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Couldn’t agree more. Understanding the market and being relevant to customers is a no-brainer. What could be easier to understand than local parents need to buy books and stationery every year.
        The question is how to get them to buy from a local newsagency.

        Newsagencies who are successful speak to schools early in the year and find out what problems they experience and solve them. They support the school in meaning full ways throughout the year. They demonstrate how schools can raise addition funds by parents coming to their shop and offer incentives to school P&C’s. They offer prizes and competitions to encourage parents into their shops. They talk to parents whenever they can. Come Back To School season they advertise and promote themselves in-store, the local newspaper, school newsletters and letter box drops to make sure that everyone knows they are the “one stop shop” for local parents for everything they need.

        To time poor parents price isn’t everything. They want convenience, a superior level of customer service and the best possible prices from a local business in their community.


  2. Great read, though a more appropriate topic would be “Are magazine distributors frozen in time”… Christine McKinnon, feel free to come into my shop for a day & your clearly see who is frozen… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes the magazine distribution system is frozen in time.

    Pity the ANF is also frozen in time, advocating a magazine trial which will result in many newsagents around the country choosing between bankruptcy and no longer selling magazines.

    If the ANF employed people who knew anything about magazine distribution, then it would not have supported this trial. Maybe the sponsorship dollars from the magazine distributors is more important than the members that the ANF is meant to represent.

    All the ANF had to do was talk to its own members to see that the system they propose is massively flawed.


    • For decades no one has been able to improve the magazine distribution system; it is frozen in time and the ANF knows that is no longer sustainable. No amount of shouting and complaining has so far fixed the problem. The ANF knows the only way to effect change is to be involved with those who control the product. By agreeing to this trial and the transparency of all the data it shows, the ANF will have real data which the publisher/distributors cannot dispute and we can then negotiate for change. The result will never be perfect for all. Some agents want all the mags they can get, some want to chose the titles they stock and have no returns, some dont want the work involved in choosing the titles – there are a lot of competing forces.
      ANF members are involved in the trial, and ANF members generally understand the necessity for it as a precursor to real change. And we all want change now – but it will take time.
      I understand your cynicism – the way magazines are allocated is often downright immoral and has continued for decades – however, the system has to change as newsagents, distributors and publishers will ALL LOSE. And so will the public as magazines will disappear from newsagents’ shelves – so, as the situation is so urgent there is a chance for real change.
      Like all negotiations there will be give and take but the ANF understands the position its members are in and the trial is the first step in actually getting real improvements.


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