The long death march of print is continuing with the closure of fashion mag Shop Til You Drop announced by Bauer Media yesterday. Just over a year ago, Bauer was still insisting the magazine would not fold, despite closing its website in December 2015. It’s just the latest in a slew of closures both for Bauer and publishers generally across the industry.

Director of newsagency marketing group NewsXpress, Mark Fletcher, told Crikey the news of the closure was not surprising to newsagents around the county.

“Magazine closures are something that have become commonplace,” he said. “We are not getting destination traffic for a title anymore in the newsagencies.”

Fletcher went on to say that the high-volume weekly and monthly titles were the most vulnerable.

“The special interest titles are strong and are doing well because they have their own communities,” he said. “But the sorts of things I’m able to read in (the weekly and monthly) magazines, I can get much better content and more diversity of content online … Why am I going to buy a magazine for this?”

Media analyst Steve Allen said Bauer’s Australian CEO, Nick Chan, is likely to make more cuts to make to the business’s magazine titles.

“He’s been given a very clear direction from the German owners — every masthead’s being looked at and those that aren’t profitable will be closed,” Allen said. “I think there will be more, but we think they’re getting to the end of this clean up.”

Allen believes the titles now most at risk would be motoring magazines, like Wheels.

“A lot of people who are buying motor vehicles now will get roadtest information online, they don’t need to buy these magazines anymore,” he said. “They used to be very important.”

Allen told Crikey that once the motoring manufacturers realised that consumers were no longer relying on reviews in the magazines, they vastly reduced their advertising.

“They always had a difficult relationship with these titles because they couldn’t control them. When they started to drop in circulation, about seven to 10 years ago, a lot of the manufacturers decided they didn’t need to advertise in them anymore,” he said.

It’s been a bad year or so for print editions of Aussie mags. Bauer closed Cleo magazine in February last year, and Dolly’s print edition was axed in December. Back in October, Bauer Media also sold off five adventure titles and their websites.

And the closures aren’t limited to Bauer — Pacific Magazines’ FAMOUS closed in April last year, and Australian Property Investor closed in December.

Newsagents are dealing with the lack of traffic by diversifying their businesses. Fletcher said that, for most, this has meant reducing the space in their shops dedicated to magazines by up to 40 per cent over the past 18 months or so. He said one newsagent he’d spoken with today had, over the last 12 months, culled the 1,400 magazine titles he once stocked down to 600.

Peter Fray

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