Paper VS Digital: Is Amman Going Virtual?

Think about the last time you went into a bookshop and bought a glossy magazine. You hold the soft shiny paper in your hands, and as you flip through the pages the smell of the fresh and crisp print tickles your nostrils, and you spend the rest of the hour reading through it.

With the rise of online publications and apps, there has been an obvious change in the number of people reading magazines, not just in Jordan but also on a global scale.

In 2012 the tumble of print magazines began when the legendary 80-year-old Newsweek Magazine was in deep trouble dye to plummeting sales. Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair was brought in to try and save the magazine. Within a few months, Brown announced to the Daily Beast that Newsweek would “cease to exist as a print publication.”

According to the New York Times’ Media Decoder, newsstand sales have dropped starting in 2012. For example, Vogue dropped by 16.5 percent, The New Yorker by 17.4 percent. Even Oprah’s O magazine sales had dropped by 17.9 percent.

Paper VS Digital: Print in Amman

Magazines in Jordan have not been affected as much, however many publications have opted for having an online copy in parallel with its printed version. Local Jordanian magazines such as Living Well and Family Flavours have both chosen to go online.

“The introduction of the Living Well app has certainly expanded our reach and generated new business.” Dana Baradei, Editor in Chief, of Living Well magazine said, “It has in no way acted as a replacement for print copies for our loyal subscribers.”

Baradei believes that print magazines are still very much alive in Amman, and people still value the conventional print purchasing and reading experience.

Even though there are no statistics about the rise or fall for magazines in the region, the question still remains: how much did the rise of online publications affect the print?

Hind-Lara Mango, publisher and managing director of Family Flavours magazine in Amman, said that the magazines sales have grown year by year since its first issue in 2006.  “Globally there are new online trends, but not yet in Jordan.” Mango said, “the wide usage of internet now has not caused magazines in Amman to decline.”

“The digital movement is not a threat, but rather an opportunity for change,” Baradei also added.  “Both mediums work together to bring in new business and enhance the reading experience for current audiences.”

Online vs. Print

Printing a magazine is very costly, and usually ad pages cover the cost because printed ad space is worth a lot more than web space. The cost of a print magazine is expensive due to ink, paper, binding, and distribution costs.

Regarding Jordan, most magazines have a deal with Aramex regarding distribution, meanwhile others like Family Flavours have opted for the choice of distributing the magazine on their own.

A big advantage for print magazines is subscribers. Subscribers to a magazine become loyal readers; they receive every issue on time and in some cases before the magazine even hits the stands.

You can always subscribe online to a certain publication, however with a press of button you can just ignore it if you don’t have the time to read. In print, the magazine will be laying around somewhere around the house and in your spare time you’re bound to read it.

A Lebanese based magazine called The OutPost is almost 100 pages long, and full of interesting content that covers the region. When you open the magazine you notice a lot more content than ads, so one may wonder how a magazine liek The OutPost still makes enough money to cover all of their costs.

Such magazines that prefer content to revenue always seem to either find a way to cover costs, or end up closing down. The Outpost has found a way to use online tools to help fund the magazine with an innovative twist: each year they crowd fund! During their first year they were able to fund the year’s issues, and they are doing it again this year.

About Jawanna Sawalha

Jawanna is a Journalism student currently based in Beirut, Lebanon. She runs her own blog in her free time, and also happens to be a magazine collector and fanatic. She loves discovering new music, especially local artists from the region. She hopes to one day write a book and have her very own publication.

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