Monday, November 1, 2010

The Future Of Magazines

There has been a lot of talk about the future of the magazine, including whether or not it even has a future in the digital age.

With the launch of Apple's iPad, Popular Science launched an online version of itself specifically for it. In an article on Apple's web site Popular Science's Director Of Research & Development, Sara Ohrvall, said, "We figured that once there was device in the market that you'd want to curl up with on your couch, then digital magazines would become interesting again."

Pat Foran, on CTV's Consumer Alert, also talked about the future of magazines. He reported that they will have both an online presence and a printed presence and that racks of magazines for sale will continue. I agree with both comments.

However, one thing that Ohrvall and Foran failed to mention is that there cannot be a future for magazines if there is no future for writers. And right no there is no future for writers with magazines, which is why many good writers have left.

Writers must be paid a decent wage. Since the digital age began more and more magazines began demanding more and more rights, but not paying for them. Writers are currently paid anywhere from about 30 cents a word to a dollar word. The odd magazine pays more. These rates haven't changed in decades.

In the pre-digital age writers, in order to make ends meet, would sell an article to magazine A and then resell it to magazine B and possibly magazine C, all in different markets. In the digital age writers can't do this as magazine A takes all the rights.

Some magazines have said they don't want to pay more for taking additional rights as they don't make anything those additional rights. If that's the case why do they insist on taking the additional rights? They take them because they to have value and here's an example.

One American magazine that I've written for demands all rights because they weren't making anything from them. Today this same magazine is making money from these additional rights, but I'm not despite it being my writing.

Contracts are offered to writers on a take it or leave it basis. Sometimes they'll allow room for limited negotiation. Sometimes too they demand that the terms of the contract not be shared. I thought contracts were suipposed to be negotiated between the parites, not forced on one?

So if the magazine business really wants to have a future they've got to do as Harlan Ellison says PAY THE WRITER!

I'll have more to say on this in future posts.