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Positive IRS trends buoy magazine industry; cover prices hiked

20-September-2011
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Positive IRS trends buoy magazine industry; cover prices hiked

It’s been quite a while since the magazine industry saw some positive trends. But it seems that year 2011 is turning out to be a year of revival for the industry. With the Indian Readership Survey (Q1 results) reporting positive trends in the average issue readership for certain periodicities, now most publishing groups have increased the cover prices of their magazines, after quite a while. This trend is, however, being seen more in English language magazines than in any other language.

In a strategic move, mainline periodicals have hiked their cover prices by Rs 5 to Rs 10. Prominent English general interest magazines, including India Today, Outlook and The Week, have hiked their cover prices by Rs 5 per copy. It may be noted here that the price of India Today magazine has been revised after a period of three years.

Business periodicals Business Today and Outlook Business have also seen a hike of Rs 5 in their respective cover prices. The cover price of Golf Digest from the India Today Group will soon shoot up to Rs 150 from the current Rs 100.

Malcolm Mistry, Publishing Director, India Today, explained, “Input cost for magazine publishing has gone up over the years. And, as we deal with an intellectual product, I don’t think that this marginal increase is going to impact the reading habit of readers in any way.”

Along similar lines, Maheshwar Peri, Publisher, Outlook, said, “Increase in the cover price was a decision to cover up the ‘cost’. I don’t think Indian readers will shy away from paying Rs 5 more to read their favourite magazine.”

Soaring High
Meanwhile, magazines targeted at students preparing for various competitive exams have seen a sharp increase in cover prices as compared to other general interest magazines. It is pertinent to note here that most of the magazines in this category have also performed well in the recent IRS results, registering growth in their average issue readership (AIR).

Pratiyogita Darpan had recently increased its cover price from Rs 60 to Rs 65. Now, with special issues of the magazines, the recent editions of Pratiyogita Darpan and Competition Success Review have been priced at Rs 75. Mahendra Jain, Editor, Pratiyogita Darpan, said, “We have come up with special issues of the magazine at higher prices than the regular edition.”

The cover prices of Junior Science Refresher and Competition Refresher too have gone up from Rs 45 to Rs 50. Meanwhile, readers of GK Today magazine will now have to shell out Rs 30, a steep increase from the earlier Rs 18.

Magazines targeted at students preparing for banking service examinations, too, have also raised their cover prices. Now Banking Service Chronicle (English) is available for Rs 40, an increase of Rs 5 per copy.

Readers of Time Out Delhi will have to pay Rs 10 more as the magazine is now available for Rs 50. This apart, the cover price of Osho World has also gone up by more than 50 per cent and the magazine is now available on the stands for Rs 50.

Janardhan Pandey, Associate VP, Mudra Max - Media, sounded a caution bell as he stated, “This sharp increase in the price can have a direct impact on the buying decision of the readers and subsequent decline of readership of the magazines. However, going forward, if they (publishers) will give better content, it is not going to hit them.”

He also noted that buying decision of the readers also depended on the subscription offers, which were often highly discounted.

(Details on the cover price of various magazines mentioned in the story are also based on conversations with various magazine suppliers, which include Mahesh Gupta, magazine supplier, City News Agency, Connaught Place, Delhi and Manoj, magazine supplier at Saket’s PVR complex.)

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