The surprising success of the Bookazine and what it means for publishers

Chris La Greca - Group New Business Manager, Ovato

If you’ve been in a newsagents in the last 30 years, you’ve likely encountered what are now called Bookazines. In the past they were called Special Editions, and your favourite magazine publisher would have printed them for special occasions.

Bookazines are a combination of books and magazines. They feature all the things that people love about magazines – high quality paper, large vivid images and easy to read and exciting layouts – with the niche subject matter and permanence of books.

While Bookazine’s aren’t a new concept, they’re gaining ground in recent years as a new way for magazine publishers to engage with readers. Let’s look at what’s making them such a success in a market that has struggled in recent years.

They’re timely and relevant

Bookazines are agile enough that when a new or interesting trend develops, they can be quickly published to ride the wave of popularity.

As K-Pop band BTS had a spectacular year and dominated the United States, Time Magazine commissioned  Meredith Magazines to develop and publish a 96-page bookazine in July 2020. And Time wasn’t the only magazine to feature the band and see a boost in sales. Variety, The Wall Street Journal Magazine and Esquire all saw spikes in sales when they featured BTS cover stories. Each of them had to go back for multiple printings.

With trends and fads coming and going, the ability of bookazines to be nimble and take advantage of the zeitgeist while getting a desirable product onto newsstands and into readers hands is a big advantage for publishers.

They’re valuable

Think of some of the big ‘moments’ of our lives. Things that are exhaustively covered across all media. COVID-19, royal weddings, Olympic Games, and more have all been celebrated or commemorated with bookazines.  

These special editions are seen as valuable because they capture a particular moment in time so well. This is where the keepsake or collectible nature of bookazines becomes important.

While a monthly magazine has content that’s obviously of interest to readers, these bookazines are often uber-specific and targeted on a particular subject, or event. As a result, they carry more in-depth discussion and analysis of that thing that’s made an impact on our lives. 

They’re a gift

While we’re labouring our way through yet more lockdowns, bookazines are providing a welcome distraction for the screen-weary.

The catch? They aren’t being purchased on impulse. Consumers are seeing them, and the subject that they cover, and they purchase them at a higher price point than normal magazines because the reader is interested enough in the subject to be happy to pay that extra cost. 

The bookazine then comes home and due to its size it’s consumed over time, either singly or as a family. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

They’re a reference

Bookazine’s make for amazing reference material for readers.

Last year Australian Traveller and Tourism Australia partnered to create “100 Ways to Holiday Here This Year”. With lockdowns and border closures affecting travel outside of states and Australia, this 156 pages bookazine highlighted holiday destinations throughout Australia and featured a fold-out memento map of Australia to help people plan their trips.

It’s the kind of material that stays on a coffee table for many months.
While you can show and share something on a phone, tablet or computer screen, there’s a satisfaction and immediate feedback to sharing something on a page. A screen isn’t as personal and doesn’t initiate feedback as effectively. 

They’re here to stay

Bookazines are a trend that publishers are going to want to look more closely at. The bookazine is bringing magazines and print full-circle. High quality, nice finish, quick turnaround print products that are timely and collectable.

They’re helping many publishers have a bumper sales year. According to Meredith Magazines, news stand revenue in the US grew by $3 million in Q2 2021 compared to the year prior. And publishers are taking notice with titles such as Hello May 2021 Wedding Annual, The Australian Women’s Weekly – Prince Philip, Vogue Living – Kitchens and Bathrooms, Delicious Special – Mid Week Dinners, R.M Williams - Stations Magazine and Rolling Stone - 50 Greatest Australia Artists showing increased interest in the Bookazine from publishers last year.

Timely, relevant, referenceable and trustworthy, bookazines are the up and coming print trend that many publishers should welcome with open arms.