For those of you following the publishing industry and it’s current growing pains (or death throws if you’re on the other side of the fence), you may have heard of the recent demise of JPG Magazine.

What’s interesting about this and makes it worth following, is it provides us with a real-life test case for the problems (and possible solutions) facing the industry today. 

The Industry Problem

JPG Magazine, Issue 19

JPG Magazine, Issue 19

As is painfully obvious to most people born after 1975, getting your news or magazine content from an actual print magazine may be an archaic way of getting your news.  Everything that is in print is currently out of date and old news on the web.

People are quickly moving towards online magazines, blogs, and other digital media outlets for their news and commentary.

Naturally, the advertisers are following in kind.  Steadily moving from Print to the more less expensive, measurable, and profitable online ads.

The JPG Problem

JPG had an interesting business model from the start.  The magazine would be user contributed, with it’s web site and Flickr supplying most of the submissions.  From there, the site users would choose who belongs in the print magazine.  …so far so good.

Now, the problem is that JPG decided to rely on ONLY print ads for it’s revenue stream.  Not exactly an the best way to go, considering most print advertising is declining in favor of web.

An End?

So, where to go from here?  The knee jerk reaction from the existing owners is to close down the magazine. Print advertisers are pulling left and right or scaling back to the point where they’re not useful.

So, in response, several properties have decided to step up and put in a few offers to buy the magazine.  It obviously has a very enthusiastic fan base and set of contributors, so it’s just a problem of finding how monetize it… and more correctly; Monetize it right.

A Possible Revenue solution

Now, closing down shop and saying “I’m done” is a rather cowardly and non-creative way of approaching this.  In my opinion, there’s several ways that this could become profitable:

  1. First and foremost, start advertising on the web site.  Advertisers are looking for a targeted audience and a vehicle that is measurable.  The web site provides exactly this… a site of photography professionals and enthusiasts, and well it’s web, so it’s measurable part is built in.
  2. Move away from a monthly print subscription or move away from a “magazine” format all together.  Then, move it into either a print on-demand magazine or an art book.  Something that you choose the best-of-the-best each year and charge a premium price.
  3. Stock Photography.
    This option may be a little odd.  But, if you have all these photographers, submitting high quality work… why not offer the option to sell these photo’s?  The photographer would get the majority of the profits, but JPG would get a commission.

Conclusion

JPG magazine has a very devoted following and fan base.  Just letting it go to the wayside seems asinine.  With such a great content model and a group of followers, there’s always a way to make money.  It’s just a matter of having the creativity to do so.

Hopefully the new owners will have greater foresight.