September has always been an exciting month for me. Call me a nerd, but when I was younger, as much as I hated to see the summer end, there was always something exciting about starting a new school year. New teachers, different classes, and the chance to basically start from scratch. September is huge deal in the magazine world as well (illustrated brilliantly, according to my editor Steve Barrett, in the documentary The September Issue), as it's often the biggest issue of the year in terms of ad pages.
Certainly the magazine industry has seen its share of troubles with circulation and lost ad revenue over the past few years. And it seems as though everywhere you turn there is news about the impending “death of print.” Even the industry's own Steve Rubel made the bold prediction last year of the decline of print media in five years, though he conceded that magazines could fare better.
Perhaps that's why it was shocking, yet refreshing, when I went to retrieve my mail last week. See, though I consume most of my news online – The New York Times in print on weekends is the exception – I am an absolute print junkie when it comes to magazines. There's something about curling up on the couch with a magazine after a long day of staring at a computer, iPhone, or iPod screen. Or relaxing on the beach with my favorite magazine. (Say what you want, but iPhones and Kindles are not beach-friendly devices). Anyway, stuffed into my too-small city mailbox was an enormous issue of Elle. The next day an equally large issue of Glamour arrived. The day after that a bigger-than-usual issue of Food Network Magazine arrived. (Great recipes, by the way.) I thought to myself, “Maybe print media isn't dead after all!”
Indeed, reports this week showed that September was the strongest issue since 2007 for many magazines, including Vogue, Elle, Glamour, and Vanity Fair. Certainly the strength of print is a message that the “Power of Print” campaign, spearheaded by five magazine powerhouses – Time Inc., Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith, and Wenner Media – is going to try to get across. Featuring such headlines "We Surf the Internet. We Swim in Magazines" and "Will the Internet Kill Magazines? Did Instant Coffee Kill Coffee?,” the campaign sends a hugely powerful message. Perhaps that message was strong enough to help sway advertisers. Now all we need to do is convince Steve Rubel.