A recent issue of Mediaweek reported that magazines have started to cool toward green issues. As more and more Fortune 500 companies launch eco-friendly initiatives, this development for the magazine industry is telling. It's also emblematic of how the flagging ad market, intensified by the economic downturn, has caused magazines to jump off a bandwagon that only just recently they were leaping on wholeheartedly.
Of course, newsstand sales for "green" issues have not been high. For instance, Backpacker’s global-warming special sold 44,038 on stands versus its average of 50,227. Discover’s green issue this past May sold 93,000 newsstand copies, versus its 115,767 average.
National Geographic just shuttered its quarterly Green Guide, a consumer-service publication it bought in 2007. But according to Claudia Malley, vp and U.S. publisher of Nat Geo, the declining ad market, rather than waning consumer interest, was the culprit.
Ending their green issues could serve a PR purpose for magazines, given that the very practice of publishing on paper is seen as at odds with protecting the environment. Still, some maintain that while tips for sustainable living are well-worn, readers continue to want targeted green content.