Thursday, July 13, 2006

I went to Paizo Publishing’s reception Saturday night at Origins to talk about their magazines. They publish Dragon and Dungeon, and used to publish Amazing Stories and Undefeated, but those have gone away. I used to write lots of articles for Dragon 25 years ago, but quit doing so when TSR (owner at the time) chose to buy all rights to articles. To me, no self-respecting writer sells all rights, though nowadays it is the most common deal even for those who write RPG books. At any rate, I learned that Paizo must purchase all rights, even to generic material, because they are required to as part of the deal that lets Paizo license the magazines from Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro (WotC bought TSR some years ago, Hasbro bought WotC). So unless I someday dig up some old material (which I own the rights to) and revise it to let it go to these magazines, I won’t be appearing there again.

The more interesting question was the continued survival of the magazines. The “Millennial Generation” (Gen Y) is disinclined to read; national newspaper readership is declining rapidly, and I suppose magazine readership is declining as well (and they’re getting shorter...). Erik Mona, the editor, told me that they did a reader survey, and found that the average reader is 35 years old. This really surprised me, as the contents of Dragon appear largely aimed at kids. Even more interesting, he said that when the results were compared with a survey from way back when Kim Mohan was editor, most of the results were the same except the readership then averaged 16! So it appears to be the same readership, much aged. He expressed doubt that a new magazine of this type could succeed now, and I have to agree. I didn’t ask questions about circulation, but I’d speculate that Dragon circulation is much lower than it was in the heyday of first-second edition D&D. Still, it’s enough to keep their company going (and put on a nice reception). Dungeon magazine is even more valuable, for third edition D&Ders, than it used to be for first, because there’s so much more detail required in the stats to create a complete adventure. I would still be subscribing to Dungeon, but I decided not to ref 3D&D any more about a year ago, and I already had dozens of unread issues.

I haven't had much luck finding information about trends in magazine circulation generally. However, news magazine circulation is holding steady, though getting older, while "the audience for pop culture, entertainment and lifestyle magazines is growing".

Copyright 2006 Lewis Pulsipher

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