Print media is on the cusp of a major comeback and here’s why this year we’re going to see a resurgence in the traditional medium

It’s no secret that print magazines have been on the back pedal since the rise of digital media in the 2010s. Audiences have come to expect free and quick access to media on their devices, and magazine sales have dropped as a result. Could 2024 be the year for a massive magazine print revival? We think so.

Don’t get us wrong, digital media isn’t going anywhere. With major companies sinking money into the development of AI and virtual realities, the future of digital media is still strong. However, in recent years, there has been a notable shift in attitudes favouring physical media again. And we think 2024 will be the year we see print’s reprisal. Here’s why.

The vinyl renaissance was only the beginning 

We’ve watched the resurgence of vinyl build since the 2010s. With sales increasing, and a younger generation embracing the previously thought to be outdated medium.

Last year sales of vinyl records hit their highest levels since 1990, following a massive growth of 11.7 per cent. Ten of the biggest selling vinyls of 2023 were all albums that were released that year, so it’s not just classic collectors and limited-edition copies driving sales. 

This surge in vinyl’s popularity shows us that people really value the tangibility of physical media over digital sources, and are turning back towards the tactile feel that the digital cannot fulfil. 

image shows vintage records stacked along a shelf

And a return to that insta-print photography moment?

If record sales aren’t enough to convince you, just look at the rise of instant photography. Fujifilm Instax are projecting 2025 sales to increase more than three times, compared to 2015. The desire from people to be able to touch and collect their media in the physical world is clearly strong. Polaroids are back, baby!

Ownership and convenience

People want to own the media they pay for, and in a digital age, many of us don’t. Music subscriptions and streaming services dominate, which don’t foster a relationship between the audience and the media. After all, streaming services were initially such a hit because they brought convenience to the process. However nowadays, there are multiple different subscriptions for TV and film streaming services. Users pay for several services and then have to search for where they can watch stuff, with no guarantee they’ll have access to that service.

Even with ebooks, where you pay for a copy of the material, companies have the right to remove that media from your device. In 2009 Kindle removed George Orwell’s 1984 from users’ kindle devices. Which, understandably, angered individuals who had paid for the book. Not only that, but this is blatant censorship. The irony is outstanding.

With digital media, you sign an agreement, where the media can be amended by the suppliers with no notice to the user. Print doesn’t hold that risk. When you pay for something, that copy is all yours. Forever.

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NYLON’s return to print 

How do we know all of this is bleeding into the print industry? Well, in November 2023, NYLON announced they’re returning to print. The American publishing company was first founded in 1999, focusing on pop culture, fashion, music, and beauty. Originally a print publication, they switched to a solely digital output in 2017.

Now in 2024, comes a re-launch of their physical magazine. It’ll be releasing in April, on a bi-annual basis. Described as “everything you loved about the old NYLON alongside some new and exciting updates.”

image shows a number of print copies of nylon magazine all lined up on a tabletop

Nostalgia and collectability

NYLON’s print edition signifies a revival within the magazine industry. This is likely to be a catalyst pushing the trend, and we’ll see a move towards more thoughtful publication. 

As indicated by NYLON’s choice for a bi-annual print, instead of more frequent editions like during the magazine heyday, publishers are likely to focus on producing something that’ll fulfil a need where digital media falls short. 

Whilst digital sources of media and content will continue to be part of people’s lives, magazines can appeal through luxury and exclusivity. A focus on aesthetic, quality, and art will create a sense of collectability, pulling readers in. Think bold covers, glossy pages, and iconic editorial images. 

Pulling an LP out of its sleeve, using magazine clippings to scrapbook or collage, watching your photo as it develops, all creates a hands-on memorable connection

Additionally, the nostalgia of flicking through a magazine will appeal to millennials and older generations. Slow media provides more of an experience for readers than the speed and clickbait that shapes online content. Pulling an LP out of its sleeve, using magazine clippings to scrapbook or collage, watching your photo as it develops, all creates a hands-on memorable connection. It consolidates the user’s experience and builds intimacy with the content.

Intimacy is also established through long form content in magazines, as it naturally breeds narratives and storytelling. Unfortunately, digital media faces restrictions in building narrative. When ads are constantly popping up through an article, readers’ attention span dwindles quickly, so there’s less leeway with the length and depth of articles. And as our storytelling blog discussed, readers love the human touch a good narrative brings, and magazines can cater to this perfectly.

We are all here for it. It’s time to see print make its’ comeback. With fresh innovation and quality content at the centre, 2024 is looking like a good year for print. 

Read more: Watch out for these content trends in 2024