Chapter 11

The magazine business


It is not easy to define a magazine. A dictionary will tell you it is a periodical containing articles, stories, etc., by various people. But so is a newspaper. And advertising magazines, such as Exchange and Mart or Loot, contain no editorial matter.

Finding a definition that covers everything from Hello! to Laboratory Equipment Digest is one of the problems that bedevils attempts to quantify the magazine market, both within Britain and abroad. Willings' Press Guide, a trade directory, lists about 12,000 periodicals in Britain. BRAD (British Rate and Data) lists more than 7,000 magazines that take advertising. Neither lists the countless small-scale local and hobby publications, from parish magazines to football 'fanzines'. Outside Britain, Willings lists nearly 12,000 'important' magazines. Ullrich's International Periodical Directory lists 147,000 'serials', as the librarians call them, although few of them are of a type that would fly off the shelves at W.H. Smith.

One way of getting to grips with these unwieldy numbers is to break them down by type and by frequency. This information is the starting point for those trying to make them work.

Business-to-business magazines

'Business-to-business' magazines is the current jargon for what used to be called 'trade' magazines. They currently outnumber consumer magazines in Britain two to one. Despite this, their profile outside the industry is low, simply because few of them appear on bookstalls.

There is no such thing as a typical business-to-business magazine, any more than there is a typical business. At one end of the scale come glossy general publications aimed at a broad range of people working in business. These have more in common with consumer magazines than with much of the business press, and are usually edited by people with wide journalistic experience both within and outside the business market. At the other


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