Purchasing Magazines Demise Raises More Questions Than it Answers

Over the weekend, I gave quite a bit of thought -- and had numerous conversations and e-mail exchanges with various colleagues -- to Purchasing Magazine's untimely demise last Friday. For those who are just waking up to the story today, Reed decided to shut down a number of its trade titles, including Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Review, after failing to find a buyer for them. As a new media company that was technically competing against Purchasing for eyeballs (I say "technically" in the loosest possible sense because I think there's a big difference between journalism and blogging/analyst research), the entire Spend Matters team views the event (from a self-serving lens, in part) with a combination of sadness, trepidation and potential. But for us, Purchasing's demise raises more questions that it answers:

  1. Is there room for print in today's procurement and supply chain world from a wide circulation perspective (or a narrower one, aimed towards a more senior audience)?
  2. Did Reed "toss the buying baby out with the bathwater?" Why did they not try to remake the title into something different, cutting costs to bring it to profitability?
  3. Where did the Purchasing business model fail -- or more specifically, where did it fail to adapt to the current environment?
  4. What would a next generation Purchasing publishing model look like (i.e., an online and/or print source that combined significant factual reporting on markets, commodities, technology, etc.)? How would it differ from the direction Purchasing was headed in?
  5. How should Spend Matters and MetalMiner react? Should we continue down our current path (combining a blog and a research business) or should we also consider pursuing more traditional reporting to fill the void left by Purchasing's loss?
  6. Are there any lessons for us in this? How can we learn from Reed's move, so that we never find ourselves in a similar situation down the line?
  7. What assets of Purchasing -- outside of their basic reporting -- did Spend Matters readers find most useful? Should we try to replicate this in any way?

I look forward to a dialogue around this, hopefully sooner rather than later. The entire Spend Matters and MetalMiner team (which currently stands at five strong from a full-time perspective) is very interested in your candid feedback and input on the subject.

- Jason Busch

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