What’s the future for Print Media?

Photo by Rishabh Sharma on Unsplash

When was the last time you purchased a newspaper?

When did you buy your last magazine/ comic book?

When did you last buy an instruction manual, a physical map, and a dictionary?

For a majority of us, the three questions would prop answers like “years ago”. Some of us may still be buying newspapers but the population is shrinking day by day. The physical maps, dictionaries, and instruction manuals are almost dead and only a specific group of people use these items in current times. The magazines and comics are dying pretty fast and the limited number of sales that they make is because of dedicated school-going children not having iPads and Tablets.

These items and a lot of other items where the information is communicated to the public come under the domain of print media. School books and other dedicated education books are not usually considered a part of print media and sadly they are the only print forms that are seeing an increase in sales.

The print media is dying a slow death and the same is also visible when you follow the stocks of these companies. The stocks haven’t moved in a couple of years and are continuously going down even when the companies are profitable. The primary reason is the decline in sales of these companies and the decreasing revenues.

The industry didn’t do anything wrong but it got caught in the wrong cycle of evolution. There are parallel industries that disrupted the domain and now the print media industry is trying to survive in a biased competitive environment.

Why is the Print media industry dying?

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

There are many reasons for it. Let us start with the primary cause of success for any industry. The success of any industry depends on “how much is the need?” and “what’s the unique selling point?”.

Unique selling point

The print media catered to millions of people who could not stick to their TV rooms to get details of this world. Then, some magazines catered to specific topics which were not readily available on the TV. Having a magazine that you can read any time, and that covers the latest developments in the domain was a unique selling point. Some people were traveling and could only use print media.

But the situation has changed. With the penetration of the internet, information is accessible to everyone with a single click. This information is fresh, detailed, and includes multiple formats such as images, videos, source links, and expert comments alongside it. The unique selling point is lost.

To add more to it, the information in today’s world changes so rapidly that by the times a magazine or newspaper reaches the audience, a significant part of the information, sometimes, becomes outdated and invalid.


The need for information is not lost. But the cost of acquisition of this information has become a deciding factor now. While a single piece of newspaper would cost me INR 10. If I buy it daily for 365 days a year, it will cost me INR 3650. Even with good discounts, the company cannot offer me a price below INR 3000 without diluting the quality of the media. It is primarily because they have to manage the transport cost, printing cost, employee salaries, information generation cost, maintenance of printing machines, and a lot of other things.

The same information when published and shared via their website, phone app, or in a PDF format can be easily sold for INR 2000. Even when the company sells it at INR 2000, they will earn more profit. Moreover, if they can increase the number of customers, their profits are only going to increase.

Thus, for the end customer, there is a large gap in the price that they pay for the same service. For someone who doesn’t have a biased thought toward the print media, there is no reason to stay hooked to it.

Covid, Social Distancing & Changed social dynamics

The industry was desperately trying to survive and then Covid came. With restrictions on the social gathering, traveling, transport, and focus on social distancing. The print media faced huge issues in the supply chain. The costs increased exponentially. On the other hand, the cost of digital media decreased as the number of players offering low-cost handphones and low-cost internet increased.

Then, there are social & cultural changes happening in the industry. Every household now has access to phones and the internet and thus they can easily access the various news sources without paying anything. The print media creates waste and has a negative impact of deforestation, and people somehow cannot identify the same effect of digital media. They unconsciously start preferring digital media.

Strategies for consumer base expansion

If anyone wants to scale a business, they either need to increase the profit margin or increase the consumer base. Print media is already priced at a premium in comparison to digital media. Thus, the option of increasing the price is not applicable anymore. There is nothing enticing about the industry that can help it increase the consumer base now.

For digital media, the playground is different. They can enter into collaborations and provide bundled subscriptions and advertisement-based free news reading. These services attract customers who don’t want to pay high prices but want to read news once in a while. These are marginal consumers who would not join the subscription list at a dedicated price but would pay a small sum if it looks like a profitable decision.

In the end, it is a lost battle. Print media is dying and the companies know it. The best that they can do is to switch to digital media as soon as they can. Most of the players have already migrated. The remaining are creating their online presence and racing against the time to survive.

What’s reserved for the future?

The industry got disrupted. Nobody wants change but it happens and wise men prepare for it in advance. The disruption introduced changes in the content publication and new publications appeared. Apple News+, Google News, Medium, etc. are the adaptations to this disruption.

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Apple News+ is a great initiative. Apple saw the tides changing and came up with a unique proposition. It is like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Videos. In Coming times people would want similar services. No one would want to pay for one newspaper unless they are good enough. Eventually, people would opt for subscriptions that offer them variety of news services in one app. That’s when subscriptions like Apple News+ would make sense.

But here’s the play. Reading is unlike other media. Readers are very specific about the topics that they read. No one reads all of the politics, technology, innovations, culture, agriculture, sports, and editorial. Some prefer technology, some prefer politics, and so on.

Thus, news aggregators would sprout in coming times. These news aggregators would offer you dedicated news and detailed research in one domain. You would be able to subscribe to technology, politics, startups, education, editorial, etc.



In a complicated world full of random data, I exist to uncomplicate

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Lalit Dixit

In a complicated world full of random data, I exist to uncomplicate