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Newspapers and magazines have a paper problem

Illustration by Kate Walker

Newspapers and magazines have a paper problem


The Future. The rising cost of paper is cutting the publishing industry at the knees, forcing many newspapers and magazines to either cut back on printing or get out of the physical-edition business altogether. While this will prove to be a headache for many publishers, there may be an opportunity for an innovative and enterprising newbie to make a name for themselves by creating a newspaper or magazine that uses “less is more” to its advantage.

Thanks to inflation, your favorite zine may have a lot less content for you to read.

  • DMG Media reports that the price of paper per ton has nearly doubled since last year to an average of $800.
  • And labor crunches and soaring energy prices are raising the price even more.
  • With the digital revolution, many paper mills have already closed their doors, putting extra pressure on existing ones to keep up with demand.

All of that is especially bad news when inflation is forcing advertisers to cut their spending and raising the cost of living for consumers — two factors that will cut revenue for publishers even more.

What’s a paper to do?
An exec at the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph said the paper crunch is forcing publishers to either “reduce the amount of pages you print, choose to increase your cover price, or a combination thereof — and that will reduce demand.” Other ideas floated include literally shrinking the size of physical editions or cutting certain editions from circulation. All of that is a lose-lose situation for both publishers and customers.

And with orders taking 12 weeks to deliver versus the usual two, according to Printing United Alliance, it’s hard for businesses to know exactly how much to print.

Despite global revenue for print newspapers and magazines expected to clock in at $128.5 billion this year (a pretty remarkable number, considering), the pressures have forced publishers like Entertainment Weekly and Time Out to stop the presses and focus on digital business. Expect a lot more industry obituaries this year.

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