There has been a stunning turnaround in the outlook for the magazine industry with more than 20 new titles published in the past few months.
The Magazine Publishers Association said the industry faced a bleak landscape earlier this year when New Zealand’s largest magazine publisher Bauer closed its doors with the loss of 237 jobs and an uncertain future for a stable of leading New Zealand magazines, including The Listener, New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, North and South and Next.
Bauer said the first round of Covid-19 lockdowns, which excluded magazines from the list of essential services, had compounded problems of falling advertising revenue and made the business enviable.
“It’s been a hell of a year,” association executive director Sally Duggan said.
“There was effectively a publishing ban, which meant that a lot of magazines just couldn’t afford to publish and get their print titles out during that period,” she said.
“So they were the low lights, but since then, there’s been a resurgence of titles and we’ve seen a number of new titles and the relaunch of many of those titles that were closed. So we’re ending the year on what feels like a high note.”
Sydney-based investment firm Mercury Capital bought some of the big titles in June, including the New Zealand Women’s Weekly, Women’s Day, The Listener, and North and South for an undisclosed sum, leaving many of the rest to be snapped up by small start-ups.
Duggan said many of the entrepreneurs were former Bauer employees.
“So this is a whole series of new independent local titles, reflecting what New Zealanders are interested in these days.” she said.
“The magazine market in New Zealand was really well overdue for an overhaul and what we’re seeing now is a lot of these very clever people, who left their comfortable jobs with Bauer, have been thrown back on their own resources and they have had to look out there at the New Zealand public, at the opportunities for new editorial offerings, and we’re seeing some really lovely, fresh distinct voices happening.”
Duggan said a recent audit conducted for the government estimated the number of New Zealand magazines titles at between 250 and 300, including small trade publications.
“I think New Zealanders are embracing print a little bit more and we’re seeing that our readership times for magazines are going up,” she said referring to a recent Nielsen survey.
“The indications are that people are enjoying leaning back with a magazine after leaning forward on their computers and Zoom conversations all day.
“I think things are looking good.”