Yesterday, Bauer announced that softcore mags People and Picture will join Loaded, FHM and Nuts under the big teenager’s bed in the sky by the end of the year.

The axing of these softcore porn titles marks the end of an era: Picture turned 30 last year, while People has been publishing since the 1950s. The decision of service stations and 7-Elevens to cease stocking the mags, after pressure from various places, proved the final death knell. People‘s readership has dropped to 41,000 and Picture to 31,000.

In the digital age, adult material faces the same commercial issues as movies, music and news: you can get it very easily online without paying a cent. As the BBC points out, appetite for anonymous access to pornography was one of the driving forces of many innovations such as video file compression and user-friendly payment systems — and in business models, such as affiliate marketing programs.

According to internet analytics firm Alexa, Pornhub — which got 28.5 billion visits in 2017 alone — is the 27th-most popular website in the world, and the 18th-most popular within Australia. If you are willing to pay, websites exist that will customise their content to you; you can get glamorous young women to destroy your stamp collection on film, if that’s what you’re into.

In the face of all that, what’s surprising here is not that these magazines have closed down, but that tens of thousands of Australian adults, in the year of our lord 2019, are still so devoted to two physical softcore porn mags.

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Associate Professor Paul Maginn, who has studied online porn consumption in Australia, told Crikey one reason these mags survived so long may be because there is a small population of consumers — usually older men — who collect hard copy porn because they don’t want to leave any kind of digital footprint regarding their habits.

Might be time someone told them about incognito mode.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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