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As industry vet D.B. Scott recently blogged, magazine advertisers have long eclipsed readers when it comes to influence over magazines.

A new report by management consulting firm A. T. Kearney suggests that magazines shift their focus from courting advertisers to securing lifetime subscriptions. It’s an interesting perspective.

Yet in the campaign for “a focus beyond circulation management to multifaceted revenue and profit management,” the authors of the report appear to believe that publishers don’t take alternate sources of revenue into account. Scott, however, points out that they do, in addition to, “multiplatform selling and linking print and web publishing and deriving income from both.”

Regardless, given the industry’s state, suggesting an overhaul of the standard magazine publishing model is expected; suggesting an overhaul where the readers take the bulk of funding responsibility is audacious. A switch between dependence on advertising and relying on the “lifetime value” of subscriptions would revolutionize the voice and content of magazines, but would it change the precariousness of the magazine industry? I don’t think we’ll find out. There’s not enough cash floating around to experiment with the lifeblood of a struggling publishing industry. Still, this may be the only shot we’ll have.

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About the author

Jordan Hay was the Front of Book Editor for the Summer 2010 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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