Fandom and airfryers: Indies urged to capitalise on the specialist bookazine trend

'Lower-priced weeklies and dailies are steady, but they’re being hit harder by the cost-of-living crisis'

Independent retailers are being urged to capitalise on the growing popularity of specialist bookazines to counter declining newsstand sales.

Ben Oakden, newstrade and retail category director for Future’s distributor, Marketforce, told Better Retailing bookazines and specials tapping into trends are performing well.

“Titles relating to fandom are doing great,” he said. “Future’s Taylor Swift and Harry Styles specials have been well received. On a different note, air fryers have seen a huge demand in the past year.

“Future was able to release a bookazine that included recipes for a niche that isn’t really served well by the book market yet.”

Oakden attributed much of the increased interest in specials, high-value partworks and bookazines to a remaining desire by consumers to stay knowledgeable about what interests them, despite the cost of living.

“Everyone is having to make difficult financial decisions right now, but hobbies and staying informed about the things you care about are the last things to go,” he said.

“Although we are talking about products that are expensive, it has to be looked at as a value exchange.

“Consumers know ‘value’ doesn’t mean ‘cheap’ – it means getting what you paid for and being pleased with it. These sorts of products are getting it right at the moment.”

Elsewhere, Oakden confirmed to Better Retailing that current affairs and hobbyist titles were rapidly gaining popularity, with staple titles, like women’s weeklies and TV magazines, underperforming in comparison.

“Lower-priced weeklies and dailies are steady, but they’re being hit harder by the cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

“People think of them as part of the weekly shop, and that’s something everyone is cutting back on. Currently, they make up 85% of Future’s volume sales, and more than half of its overall sales revenue.”

When asked what upcoming releases independent retailers can capitalise on, Oakden listed the Taylor Swift Yearbook from Anthem, due for release on 1 November. “We are expecting this to perform really well due to the boom in popularity for the artist following her current tour,” he said.

Oakden also highlighted Macmillan Distribution’s new monthly newspaper, Byline Times, launching on 26 October, with a cover price of £4.50; the Economist’s The World Ahead, on sale on 28 November and priced £14.50; and Panini’s Paw Patrol, Spider-Verse, Squishmallows and Wednesday Addams stickers launching next month.

Read more news and advice about the newspaper and magazines category and click here for the latest ABC circulation figures


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