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growth, achieving 10 per cent print sales growth year-on-year, with an overall ABC of 49,311 including over 10,000 digital sales.

What inroads have you made into the international market? Licensing was at the heart of Imagine Publishing’s strategy right from the start, with a focus on producing internationally relevant content and unrivalled control of international content rights, making licensing easy for our partners. There are currently 50 regular licensed magazine editions published in 18 different countries – more than ever before – while many hundreds of bookazines have also been published under licence.

Where do you see international growth opportunities? Imagine Publishing already has many long- standing licensing partnerships in Western Europe and others in South America, which continue to grow and strengthen. However, this year has also seen a doubling in the number of


Imagine Publishing was formed in 2005 by Damian Butt, Steven Boyd and Mark Kendrick, all former

directors of publishing companies. The first seven months of trading saw five successful launches – including

Photoshop Creative – the UK’s first Photoshop magazine – and one acquisition, Retro

Gamer. This was followed by the acquisition of a large portfolio of technology and

videogames titles in January 2006,

increasing the number of magazines to 17 within the first year, including some market leaders.

that are more dependent on traditional advertising revenue, others have proved that there are still great opportunities for growth and diversification in new sectors, in new formats, on new platforms… through innovative revenue streams.

How is digital contributing to revenues and growth? We see digital editions and apps as being an essential part of our portfolio in today’s publishing world, and one where we see further growth potential. As the first UK publisher to have our entire magazine portfolio available for the iPad when it launched in the US, we were early movers to these new platforms, and we believe we were right to embrace them with confidence. They have gained us hundreds of thousands of new readers, thus making a hugely valuable contribution to revenue.

Imagine Publishing licensing agreements in Central and Eastern Europe, plus new launches in the pipeline in Southeast Asia. Bookazines have proved a natural – and profitable – way for licensees to test new markets, more often than not leading on to successful new magazine launches. We expect to see more of this in the coming year, with expansion of licensing into new territories, and the continued success of our bookazines and magazines in other countries proving increasingly exciting.

What is the domestic market like? Lower ABCs and an ever dwindling and more segmented advertising market have continued to affect magazine publishers across the board. While this has proved a problem (and distraction) for those companies

What other revenue streams are there? Our core revenue streams are focused around our print and digital products with digital becoming increasingly important. Even though we had first-mover advantage on the iPad, we are still looking for more revenue streams for our content, and have since added new third-party digital platforms as well as launching our own iOS publishing platform, Martini. Historically, events have never been part of Imagine’s strategy, but like the music industry, this is proving to be a potentially exciting new way of attracting readers and revenue to our brands.

What other growth strategies do you have? We see tremendous growth for our current portfolio in emerging economics such as India, where we publish directly, plus China and Asia. We are always launching new magazines, testing bookazine topics, and it’s rare for there not to be acquisitions for us to consider.

Imagine at WMM:

“Bookazines” are great products for testing new markets, says the company

Imagine’s latest launch

How It Works: Illustrated Page 9

How is the advertising market? The traditional advertising market continues to be tough though there are still opportunities if you are able to offer innovative ‘added value’ solutions as opposed to relying entirely on traditional display advertising. Imagine’s overall success comes from having multiple revenue streams of which advertising is one, but unlike the majority of other publishers, it is not dominant and in fact accounts for less than 10 per cent of our total company revenues.

Which are your best- performing brands? Our best performing regular brands, both in the UK and internationally are currently in the knowledge sector, particularly Ho

w It W orks

and All About History, which are licensed in 12 and six other countries respectively. However, technology continues to be our strongest area overall: for instance, our mobile technology-focused bookazines are amongst our top revenue-earning products.

What is Imagine’s core philosophy? We remain focused on producing innovative products of the highest quality, staying in tune with the needs of an increasingly sophisticated and demanding readership.

Where do you see the company in five years? I would hope to see the company double or triple in size, but still with the highest net margins in the industry, a quality portfolio of respected brands, yet still agile enough to quickly exploit new markets before our rivals.

Cathy Blackman is head of international licencing at Imagine Publishing

time line

 May 2005 – Imagine Publishing formed  Aug-Oct 2005 – First five titles launched  Dec 2005 – First acquisition (Retro Gamer)  Jan 2006 – Acquisition of Highbury Entertainment portfolio  May 2006 – First bookazine launched  Oct 2009 – How It Works  April 2010 – Imagine portfolio first onto iPad  June 2012 – All About Space  April 2013 – Imagine wins Digital Pioneer award  June 2013 – All About History  Nov 2013 – World of Animals issue 84_2014 | Magazine World |33

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