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Is Print Dead?

I am a massive fan of magazines.

My living room is filled with back issues of my favourite periodicals, stacked in date order and sorted by title, all with post it notes hanging from the sides, and dog eared from multiple reads and sharing among friends.

I am also a massive fan of online and social.

I love all things blogs and reading about things in real time. My ipad however, regularly sits idle in my handbag, only bought out at meetings, or when a bigger screen than the iphone is required to view a webpage. You can’t take an ipad in the bath to read. I’m sure it hurts when you fall asleep while reading in bed and drop an ipad on your head.

And you can’t put perfume samples in an online publication.

While there is daily debate about the future of newspapers and the immediacy of news on Twitter, Facebook and online updates through major news websites, it seems as although magazines have been written off altogether, with cries of ‘print is dead’ echoing through empty publishing house hallways across Australia.


In the past, people have claimed that with each new medium we create, an older technology will be superseded. As this video (see above link) claims, mediums like radio, theatre and VHS were all going to be outdated by a newer technology – yet they all still exist. The internet was supposed to kill everything – but in 2012, there is still a place for all these mediums, especially magazines, to continue to evolve and provide value for readers.

Magazines can provide an experience that online can not, however…

So is print dead? While online will always have the power of immediacy, magazines can provide an offline experience that is tangible and allows the time to savour the images and words, rather than racing through an online post – evidenced by the average time spent reading a magazine, 43 minutes. Have you ever spent that long on a website?

Magazine circulation may be in decline, but readership remains strong. The future of magazines remaining viable lies in their ability to integrate their online and offline offering, sourcing readers across their website, social media platforms, events AND the print publication. These areas must offer a united approach in order to maintain relevance in 2012 and beyond.

FRANk Media - Is Print Dead

The best examples of this are magazines that have a savvy website, a strong social media presence incorporating Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, among others, and link their magazine back to their online spaces, such as offering products in the book for purchase via their own channels.

FRANk Media - Is Print Dead Vogue on Tumblr

Vogue Australia on Tumblr


FRANk Media - Is Print Dead Shop Till You Drop

Shop Til You Drop Website


FRANk Media - Is Print Dead Marie Claire Twitter

Marie Claire Australia on Twitter


FRANk Media - Is Print Dead Harpers Bazaar Australia on Facebook

Harpers Bazaar Australia on Facebook

This evolution of media.

The evolution of media is simply part of the ongoing process to always be innovating in the space. New media is the future but traditional media can be a part of this. AdNews Print Editor Damian Francis quoted stats from Roy Morgan in the 18 May edition, evidencing that not only are magazines surviving, many – especially the women’s sector – are actually thriving. The internet and online certainly isn’t going anywhere, so there is clearly a balance to be struck between the two.

At FRANk, we are all about online, but more than that, we are all about being social. In the past, passing a read magazine with post it notes scattered through it to friends was one of the first instances of social – now we post those articles and images to Facebook walls and Twitter feeds. It’s still all about sharing.

Do you still buy magazines? Or consume only online content?



  1. May 24, 2012

    Great post Sarah! I still buy magazines occasionally but they are just for frivolous self-indulgence. I would much rather curl up on the sofa with a glossy paper mag than an online version on my iPad. There’s something special about gazing & turning printed pages (that don’t make you strain your eyes).

    I guess when we consume content online – it’s about getting the very latest news, and being able to share it via email/social/etc. Online is a great medium for news, tips and so on that we might want to share/refer to. But print, I feel, is more self-focused on the reader – creating feeling/opinion & engagement rather than facilitating information search/skimming and chronic-scroll-finger. 

    In support of print but yep, digital and social channels can really help create a community around each magazine’s subjects – something that was missing before

    • May 25, 2012

      Good post guys, I enjoyed. Like Steph I enjoy an occasional mag read, something about having the mag in front of you and page turning, it just feels right. It’s also great to grab when you’re flying (something about airports that just make me buy magazines!) For too many people it’s becoming a ‘sometimes’ thing (bit like Cookie Monster) and inevitably this trend will continue and circulations will continue to fall. 
      I feel that Mags will always be around, thus print is not dead, however it’s destined to be a more niche medium as social and digital continue to dominante. As you’ve both alluded to, the smart publishing houses are the ones who are rallying and engaging their fans more (often better than many other brands) with additional content across multiple social platforms.

      The one that I find more interesting is Newspapers and where they’re destined. For papers it’s a far greater fight as they have regular online to deal with along with iPads. I dearly hope print newspapers are always around. Genuinely one of my greatest pleasures in life is a weekend spend with several coffees, not time limit and The Age :)  

  2. May 24, 2012

    Thanks Steph. I think the community part is essential – Vogue did this early with Vogue Forums and they have really curated a content rich knowledge base of like minded people. 
    The facebook, twitter, pinterest and other social tools magazines are using builds on their physical offering – often the editors will reply to comments from their own accounts and it gives the reader a direct line of communication with the specialists that would never happen with just a physical product.The House Beautiful example is great, a real innovation that can actually incorporate the physical product beyond a QR code. Very savvy! Thanks for the link.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] on from our post last week, ‘Is Print Dead?’, the  comments on the topic proved that the content offering – be it in print or online […]

  2. […] on from our post last week, ‘Is Print Dead?’, the  comments on the topic proved that the content offering – be it in print or online […]


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