Magazine readership preferences confirm the continued primacy of print.

pileIn my line of work, I receive many magazines and other publications covering not only the marketing and advertising field, but also the industries and markets of our corporate clients.

Every time one of these subscriptions comes up for renewal, I’m strongly urged to choose the online/electronic offering instead of the print edition.

I know why, of course. Between the printing, postage and shipping considerations, magazines and other printed media represent the most involved (and the most costly) form of delivery.

And there’s also the issue of “currency” and “recency,” with breaking news being covered much quicker and more efficiently online.

Still, I generally opt for print for the simple reason that a physical magazine, newspaper or newsletter is easier to browse and to read. I like the “linearity” of a print magazine and find magazine reading less satisfactory online.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m very happy digital versions of the print editions exist. I love the fact that I can go online and access an article of particular interest that I may wish to archive in electronic form, or pass along to friends and colleagues.

So, consider me an “all of the above” sort of person. Still, there are times when I think that I represent a more traditional way of thinking about consuming news articles — one that’s decidedly losing popularity.

But then … we see the results of a new digital magazine market study, published by Mequoda Group, a media consulting firm.

The survey, which was conducted in July 2015 among ~3,650 Americans adults age 18 or higher who have access to the Internet, found that digital magazine consumption has now reached ~43% of print magazine consumption.

So digital is rising.

But the Mequoda research also finds that ~70% of American adults who have access to the Internet have read an average of three print magazine issues in the past 30 days. (2.91 print magazine issues, to be precise.)

Here are the findings for print magazines read over the previous month:

  • Read one print magazine: ~18%
  • Read two: ~19%
  • Read three: ~13%
  • Read four: ~8%
  • Read five or more: ~13%

At the same time, ~37% of American adults who have access to the Internet have read an average of 2.37 digital magazine issues over the past month. Here’s how that breakdown looks:

  • Read one digital/online magazine: ~14%
  • Read two: ~8%
  • Read three: ~5%
  • Read four: ~3%
  • Read five or more: ~7%

What this means is that in 2015, print magazine readership activity outnumbers digital by a 2-to-1 margin.

The Mequoda research tested five reasons why people might prefer reading digital versions over printed versions of magazines. Of those who read digital magazines, here are the percentages who deemed those reasons “very important”:

  • Offers immediate delivery: ~42% consider very important
  • Portability / easy to carry: ~40%
  • Environmentally friendly: ~40%
  • Cheaper than print: ~39%
  • Thousands of titles: ~35%

The bottom line on this topic appears to be that the demand for print delivery of periodicals remains significant … and that publishers who elect to shift to “all-digital” delivery stand to lose at least some of their reader engagement.

Even so, I have no doubt that publishers will continue to push electronic delivery in the hopes that print can eventually fall completely by the wayside.

The full report is available free of charge from Mequoda here.

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