I had to stop myself from snapping up a heavily discounted one-year subscription to Delicious magazine that was recently offered through the LivingSocial whopper deal site.
I love a good bargain. And at $32 (normally $65) for a year’s subscription, the 51 percent saving on a magazine that i’ve previously subscribed to and enjoyed was a bargain alright.
In agreement were 9310 other food lovers. That’s how many had bagged the deal by the time it expired on Wednesday morning.
But these days i’m pursuing my food reading pleasure in digital format wherever possible. With a shortage of shelving at home, an eye on the future of digital media – ‘digital first’ the major newspaper publishers Fairfax and News Ltd are now saying – and a determination to make better use of my nifty little iPad, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.
I’ve embraced the Australian Gourmet Traveller iPad application for that very reason. I find the digital edition a practical, enjoyable and interactive experience. No more paper magazines for me!
There’s certainly a time and a place for a colourful, hardback cookbook that weighs a tonne. But according to the majority of respondents to my last blog piece on this theme, digital magazines are increasingly favoured over hardcopy editions.
There is no question that the future of print publishing is in serious in doubt. Fairfax (publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review) and News Ltd (publisher of The Australian and The Telegraph) both announced major redundancy programs and a shift in focus to digital strategies in the past few weeks. Newspapers may not survive the shake-out.
Food media is not immune to this metamorphosis. Questions are increasingly being raised about the future of food writing – once a darling of print media – as advertising revenue declines and electronic platforms create a more competitive arena.
To quote Amanda Hesser of Food52, who stirred the food media into a tizz earlier this year with her article Cooking from every angle: Advice for future food writers: “Just 10 years ago, food writers with staff jobs were able to earn $80,000 to $150,000 a year, and freelancers were regularly paid $2 a word; today, these jobs barely exist.”
Which brings me back to the Delicious discount. What was that all about?
Competition is undoubtedly tough in the food media market. There was already a plethora of food magazines available, before MasterChef Magazine debuted in 2010 and SBS sashayed into the market with Feast last year.
According to this article in The Australian, ad page volume for magazines dropped 7 percent in the 12 months to December 2011, according to Nielsen data. In the June half, magazine advertising revenue fell 5 percent year-on-year to $457 million, and full-year figures were expected to show a similar level of decline.
It’s no wonder that a fight for subscribers – who have a growing penchant for digital (preferably free) content – is under way. But discounting a product by half smacks of desperation. Discounts might be attractive to customers, but it can seriously damage a brand.
Delicious is published by NewsLifeMediaNews, the magazine unit of News Ltd, which is pushing full steam ahead into the digital future. NewsLifeMedia closed two magazine titles last year year: Alpha and Notebook.
I haven’t been able to find a Delicious iPad application, although the group does have them for other food titles such as Donna Hay Magazine.
The question is, has Delicious got what it takes to ride out the industry’s transition from print to digital? And how will other food magazines fare in media sector shakeout?
Note: The author works at Fairfax.