Digital Publishing
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Publishers bet big on ‘Special Editions’

Bookazines and special interest publications offer struggling print magazines high-margin revenue opportunities and the promise of new readers. But are they cannibalising the already-dwindling audience for monthly editions? Hmmm.

Kim & the Kardashians ($13.99), Vogue It Girl Style ($12.99), InStyle Home & Design ($4.99). These are just a few of the many fashion-focused “special edition” magazines vying for attention amidst the glossy monthlies, news weeklies and celebrity tabloids at airport newsstands around the world as consumers gear up for the holiday travel season.

Traditionally, special interest publications – known within the industry as SIPs – have been dominated by “bookazines,” book-like magazines about historical events or famous deaths, that do not include advertisements or prominent magazine titles on the cover. But as newsstand sales and advertising revenue for traditional magazines continue to decline, publishers are getting more creative with high-margin print products that feel like premium magazines, mining their archives for photographs and articles that may have already been published in a monthly edition to create fresh, collectible issues devised with consumers – and brand advertisers – in mind.

“It’s content that the magazines have already produced, so they’ve paid for it once and they’re making money off of it twice. And they are making a lot of money off of it,” says Aileen Gallagher, associate professor of magazine journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.

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