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DDJ vs. Backyard Poultry
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Eric Sink has a post talking about the sad state of developer publishing, specifically discussing the declining readership of the venerable developer magazine Dr. Dobb's Journal, as compared to that mainstay of American newsstands Backyard Poultry.

After reading the article and the replies, I just had to throw in my two cents about magazine publishing and why "1% of the US population are software developers, so there should be a huge market for development magazines."

It's a significant mistake to think that the reader is the target and that the magazine is the product.

It is actually the aggregate readership that is the product, and the advertisers who are the target. That is, unless the magazine takes no advertising and is entirely supported by its subscribers.

This was driven home to me recently when I bought the recent "eInk Flashing Cover" issue of Esquire. I had never read Esquire before, so in addition to checking out the cool hardware on the cover, I started trying to read it. It was way more full of ads than Wired ever was — even in the days when Suck famously disassembled Wired 3.09 to remove the ads.

Furthermore, its advertisers were all very high-end. Thus I wasn't that surprised when I saw that the price on the subscription card for a year of Esquire was well under $1/issue.

So if Dr. Dobb's Journal is circling the drain, it's not the current readership that's to be blamed, or the Internet. It's the lack of advertisers interested in reaching that readership, or the magazine's ability to reach a readership that is interesting to a better-paying tier of advertisers.

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I'm trying to remember the ads in DDJ back when I subscribed... lots of 90s era character-mode windowing toolkits.

I remember thinking much the same thing...

Back when "Computer Language" folded, and again when Embedded Systems shank to a pale shadow of it's former self.

I'm coming around to the idea that the Internet really is to blame for the decline of the more-technical magazines, though. I'm a big fan of magazines, but I'm doing a lot more reading online these days.

The quality and quantity of articles available for DDJ is probably declining drastically. Anyone who has something to say about programming technique probably has a blog, and they'll be able to post it there, without having to polish it into a state for publication on dead trees.

Given the lack of compelling content, there's no reason to subscribe, and with no subscribers, there's no ad revenue.

Re: DDJ vs. Backyard Poultry

This is completely true. Magazines could not exist without advertisers. The level of readership dictates the demand for advertisement and pricing. It's a pretty simple business model actually.

Online advertising will continue to grow as print dies a painful death. I think Erik Sink was shortsighted in his assertion that "that the reader is the target and that the magazine is the product."

Just my two cents,

Adam @ pheromones

My old roommate subscribed to DDJ and my roommate before that subscribed to backyard poultry. LOL.

Dan @ pheromones (http://www.pheromonesguru.com/)

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