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Your Business Commentary

Mike's often irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry-- with an occasional guest columnist.

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Magazines and the Internet

In what form will magazines survive?

by CLN Subscribers (December 6, 2010)

The November 15 issue of CLN included a commentary about the nature of general craft magazines and asked readers to comment on their role and the Internet's influence in the changing nature of publications. 

1. Your conclusions concerning the importance of craft magazines were "right on" a couple of years ago, but the Internet has changed the landscape of  "how consumers are introduced to our crafts". Case in point is "Jewelry Making." I just Googled this topic and found the following list of sites to visit: Jewelry Classes, Jewelry Ideas, Jewelry Tools, Jewelry Kits you get the idea. I went a step further and Googled "Jewelry Projects" and found an even longer list consisting of Jewelry Projects for Kids, Jewelry Projects for Free, Jewelry Project Ideas, Jewelry Projects for Beginners -- and the list goes on. 

The internet is providing our crafters with instant gratification, and frequently the content is provided at "no charge." Magazines continue to be a top source of crafting ideas, but if you combine all the ways consumers search the Internet for craft learning ideas, techniques, tools, and inspiration, the Internet is now the number one resource for crafters. 

Our research shows this to be true today and the trend line indicates that the Internet will continue to grow in importantance as a resource for our craft consumers. Jan Kahn, Caron Int.

2. I believe the sewing and quilting industry's magazines are important to the enthusiast, not just for project ideas, what's new and inspiration, but these enthusiasts are tactile people. They love to touch, feel, and create. They like opening a magazine and finding something they want to make. They like to keep their magazines as resources for information and projects they "want to make"; in other words, a stash much like fabric. The Internet is important, too, but I do not see it replacing magazines in our industry. No scientific data here; just a few years of experience. Nancy Jewell, Westminster Fibers

3. I think you are correct; however, I feel the trend is changing somewhat. Ten years ago I probably bought a magazine at the checkout counter every week. Now I now tend to surf the web for inspiration more so than purchasing magazines. I find great tutorials and get inspiration from sites like Etsy and other online craft sites. This applies to my crafting and other interests as well -- decorating, cooking, and photography. It is more budget-friendly and also cuts down on the clutter that I have. Now, once I get into the hobby I will buy a more in-depth, subject-specific book for reference. Lynn Toler, Hampton Art division of Caron Int.

4. Your theory was probably more sound in the "old days." Today, the action is happening on the Internet. With a plethora of "Free" out there, it's easy for consumers to find cool projects without having to buy a craft or even a specialty magazine. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs all draw consumers to "try" a project and can create dedicated consumers to a discipline (i.e. crochet, scrapbooking, etc.). Plus, those outlets provide something a magazine never could: community, a place where they can go back and "share" their project on a gallery, etc. Others comment and the "crafter" is encouraged, and will probably progress to make another project.

Where do consumers go from there? More "free" and then eventually, I believe, to books and probably some specialty magazines. However, with the quality of "free" tutorials and videos out there on blogs and YouTube, I don't think many consumers actually buy books as in the past. Remember, books use trees to produce, but that's another story!

I'm not dismissing the value of magazines or books; I'll always want to have a hard copy of those in-depth techniques and beautiful projects, even though they take up space. But I have to admit, I'm much less likely than in the past to buy a book or magazine that only has a few projects that interest me. Chances are, I can find something similar (or better) on the Internet.

Smart manufacturers and retailers are building their own Internet communities and reaching out to bloggers and social media to promote their products. Jean Kievlan, Kievlan-McGuffee Design Services

5. I think a general craft magazine is a buffet with everything from soup to nuts, while narrower focus magazines are more like a bistro with a limited menu. I am on both sides of the pages -- as a writer and designer and as a reader -- and I'm just glad we continue to have plenty of options.

I did an informal survey with seven of my craftiest friends and they have all started at least two crafts because of a general craft magazine (beading and crochet for one person, card making and embroidery for another, and so on). Sadly, only three now subscribe to two or more magazines, while the rest buy one issue at a time, based on whether they're interested in a particular project or have a discount coupon to use on the issue. (The discount coupons play a big role.) One friend said she's more likely to buy a magazine to browse, or one that covers techniques where she currently has no expertise if it costs roughly the same as a fast food lunch! 

All seven said that their friends remain the biggest influence -- four began stamping after they attended home parties, and I admit that I bought my Cuttlebug after a friend told me I needed one and she was going to nag me till I got out my wallet. Judi Kauffman

6. I agree that all the free stuff out there is definitely having a negative impact in many areas, especially the professional designer. In a way, you can't blame the manufacturers for not wanting to pay for projects when they can put it out on Facebook that they are searching for Design Team members. What they don't seem to realize is that that's all they are getting -- a project. Professional designers bring a world of background, insight, and industry knowledge to the table in addition to the needed project or design. Oh well. In the long run, you get what you pay for. --Eileen Hull (www.EileenHull.blogspot.com, www.paperworketc.com)

xxx

 

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