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UK tech and gaming magazines are banding together

Engadget Engadget 23/06/2016 Nick Summers
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It's no secret that most magazines are struggling to retain, never mind increase their readership. The medium isn't dead, far from it, but the ever-growing competition online is forcing publishers to rethink what they print. The latest strategy is, unsurprisingly, to create scale through consolidation. Future PLC, the company behind Edge, T3 and MacFormat, as well as the more online-oriented TechRadar and GamesRadar, will soon be acquiring fellow magazine maker Imagine Publishing. The deal is worth £14.2 million ($21.1 million) and will be settled entirely through shares.

For 11 years, Imagine Publishing has produced a bevy of print titles including gamesTM, a monthly magazine with a more thoughtful, highbrow approach to video games, All About Space and How it Works. The company has also nurtured a range of technology-focused publications including iCreate, Gadget and Web Developer. One of the company's biggest strengths, however, is its "bookazine" business which offers beginner-friendly guides and magazine-style editorial in a larger, book-style package. Many of its magazines have companion websites, but they're often treated as afterthoughts or secondary to the print business.

"This is a unique opportunity to acquire a market-leading knowledge, science and technology content business which will complement and expand our capabilities," Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne said.

Why does all of this matter? For one, it's a reminder of the pressures facing print journalism today. The internet has irrevocably changed how people consume and share news, forcing publishers to rethink the role and market fit of their magazines and newspapers. Consolidation also means less competition within the magazine industry -- Future and Imagine Publishing will no longer be rivals, but comrades in their search for growth and a sustainable business model. Future hasn't divulged its plans, but with so many overlapping titles -- gamesTM and Edge, for instance -- some closures seem likely. These could result in significant job cuts too.

Here's what we can say with certainty: some of the UK's biggest technology and video game magazines will soon be under one roof. It's not the first merger of its kind, and likely won't be the last. That said, there aren't many magazine publishers left for a company like Future to gobble up now.

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